They exist to push any boundries in existence to the extent that such bounderies become limitless and mute. Bowie does just this, he utterly obliterates limits... he annihilates them.
David Bowie is the Andy Warhol of music and Warhol is the Bowie of art, and it is no surprise he played the artist in the 1996 film Basquiat. It is important, however, not to over-intellectualize the very concept of creativity when considering Bowie, as he is an entity which cannot be categorized by conventional scientific methods. Bowie, in his creative existence resonates there, comfortably beside the unconventional.
David Robert Jones started to leave his artistic imprint on the world five decades ago with the release of the self- intitled album in 1967 and then the epic Space Oddity in 1969. He was firmly established by the conclusion of the 1970's as an undeniable force which helped defined the era as he brought in his unique androgynic, gender transending and bending infusion to the world of music. He also enjoyed and indulged in an intense flirtation with fashion and his image along the way. He released a staggering eleven studio albums in the decade of 1970, chronologically being, The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Aladdin Sane, Pin Ups, Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, Station to Station, Low, Heroes and Lodger.
He also introduced the world to his quirky alter ego Ziggy Stardust during that period. The 1980's and until a decade ago gave us Scary Monsters ( and Super Freaks), Let's Dance, Never let me Down, Black Tie White Noise, The Buddha of Suburbia, Outside, Earthling, "Hours...", Heathen and Reality. His style, talent and originality oozed and infused itself into the world of film also. The Next day, his new sudio album was released in March 2013, fourty years after the that of Aladdin Sane, also being a decade since his last studio album.
Considering so much past works to choose from it would be easy for him to reside on the side of the familar with this work and embrace the comfortable and thus entertain nostalgia, but that is rejected with The Next Day. It is refreshingly contemporary, spiced and seasoned with new and original material. In true Bowiesque style, without warning, he unleashed a single from the album, Where Are We Now? onto the world, spinning his community of fans and the media into a phenomenal frenzy, leaving a deep hunger and a lust for more. That lust was acknowledged and satisfied with the release of The Next Day.
There is no doubt about it Bowie is back with a bang...but it's not that he ever went away, of course.... perhaps more that he was letting the dust settle for a decade and he has decided to violently shake it up again. He has outdone himself..... "outBowied" himself, even. It is an intelligent album full of the deeply foreboding tunes with intense apocalyptic overtones. He also explores the dark cult of celebrity in the album. This is done all with the help of demonic strings, baptisms of funk, belting baritone sax, divine hand clapping, jazz rhythms, psych-pop, synth-pop...jungle rhythms, and sublime church organs all thrown in with perfect measure. It inclines towards and is presented on the sonic side of a musical Dante's Inferno. It is sublimely and delightfully dark, yet with upbeat splashes.
There are subtle hints of previous works, reminiscent of lyrics and arrangements from the songs China Girl and Let's dance and that of the album Space Oddity, yet it does not indulge the nostalgic, on the contrary, it more cleverly acts as a portal to and epic evolution into new material that is starkly original and fresh. He is a phoenix that rises from his own creative ashes. Bowie is indeed a master of intrigue, and he flirts shamelessly with that particular charm. The album cover itself is composed of white box surrounding his face, seductively inviting you in to draw your conclusions and on the right hand side is his name with the word Heroes with a line drawn through it. It is a statement so simple in it's complexity or so complex in it's simplicity, that the mind boggles.
It challenges the imagination and intellect to the extent, in a subliminal statement that suggests forget the past and past projects... it is now.....it is The Next Day. The album concludes bodly with the song Heat which is presented as a lamenting funeral march, in a "the end is nigh" fashion and he adapts his voice in the most foreboding and formal of fashions, very possibly drawing on inspiration from his previous acting experiences. The song and conclusion of the album suggests a death or ending, or is it a personal musical transition, or is he suggesting more....what happens after the next day, or is the next day apon us..is it here...He offers delicious food for thought, as always.
His obsessive relationship with fads and fashions and his unparalleled, incomparable career in it's entirety is explored in an exhibition beginning on March 23rd in London's Victoria and Albert Museum. It serves as the first international retrospective of his remarkable career, so appropriately called David Bowie is......In a sentence and statement that entices with an infinite number of endings and interpretations and invites us to do so, as does his plentiful and vast creative contributions to the world. Bowie has always been a unique creature of intrigue...and The Next Day is Bowie's masterpiece..it is his Mona Lisa.