Sunday, March 31, 2013


What a surprise!  A new Bowie album! It's could easily be inconceivable that a man in his mid-sixties and ten years since his last album (another notable exception: Scott Walker) would be creating work as vital as past successes,  but let's face it,  David Bowie isn't just any old dude. The cover and title shout  concept here,  a kind of negation of past selves and a reinforcement of the creative process as part of a life truly lived.
                                                   "And I Say to Myself
                                                   I Don't Know Who I Am"

THE NEXT DAY suggests the mundane reality of the passage of time,  while also bringing jagged stabs of life to dark and ambiguous narratives filled with a keen sense of one's own mortality. A song like "Dirty Boys" has more to do with deceased, yet willfully present idols like Basquiat,  Burroughs,  and Warhol than hanging with the great unwashed. The record is rife with references to death as eventuality.  In many ways it almost seems like a sequel to Bowie-produced THE IDIOT (1977) by Iggy Pop,  as this album matches the production grit and dirty guitar sound so prevalent on that album,  thought ancient rhythm boxes make no appearance here.  The Berlin trilogy's iconic HEROES cover  makes a defaced nod to that period,  as does producer Tony Visconti .  It took me at least a half a dozen listens to connect,  but it was certainly worth the effort.  There are even small glimpses of Frippertronics,  Sonic Youth-like noise (a bonus instrumental),  Ziggy guitar riffs,  and scronky sax here, although none of them sound like any kind of plagiarizing or artistic ass-kissing.  After several serviceable,  yet uninspired releases,  Bowie has resurrected himself for real,  and is both topical (the school shooter in "Valentine's Day",  the soldier in "I'd Rather Be High"),  poetically ambiguous ("If You Can See Me"),  and rather angry,  which are all good things.  And that anyone is still speculating about "meaning"  here speaks volumes about Bowie's artistic health.

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