fri 29/08/2014

David Bowie, 66, releases first new single in a decade | New music reviews, news & interviews

David Bowie, 66, releases first new single in a decade

theartsdesk reviews the song, the video and the event, and brings news of the album

Where is he now? Bowie is back

Well, he was always ahead of the game. In a few years’ time 66 will become the new official pension age in his native United Kingdom, but David Bowie has chosen to celebrate his 66th birthday by coming out of what many perceived to be retirement. “Where Are We Now?” was launched without any previous fanfare earlier this morning, and you can listen to it and watch the video (directed by Tony Oursler) here.

Graeme Thomson writes: Produced by his long-term collaborator Tony Visconti, in many ways musically "Where Are We Now?" marks a fairly seamless progression from the last song on his last album Reality, the slow, jazzily downbeat "Bring Me the Disco King". It also has a little of the unhurried grace and grandeur of Heathen’s "Slow Burn". The overall atmosphere is of stately simplicity. It's a deep, melancholy swell of a song, and though his voice doesn’t appear to have quite the same power as it once had, it remains unmistakeable, and is now infused with a vulnerability which is hugely moving. Lyrically, "Where Are We Now?" is sad, ruminative, reflective; how fittingly contrary that Bowie should emerge after a decade with a valediction rather than settling for the forward-facing positivity perhaps more befitting a landmark return. The song references his old Berlin haunts of Potsdamer Platz and KaDeWe before moving on to a somewhat ambiguous climactic declaration of faith in the simplest, most elemental of life's certainties: "As long as there’s sun... / As long as there’s rain... / As long as there’s fire / As long as there’s me / As long as there’s you." Everything else seems to be in shift, up for grabs. It's a beautiful thing, and all the more beautiful for falling from a clear blue sky.

The Next Day is timed to coincide with the major exhibition coming to the V&A

Joe Muggs adds: I don't think there is faith or certainty in this record. David Bowie is too smart for that. Like the song's earlier reference to the precariousness of human actions, the "as long as..." lines come with no guarantees, no certainty of eternity. This is a man who knows that all things must pass, and this is one of the saddest songs he's ever written. And I'm extremely happy about that, as it doesn't disturb the sense we had of Bowie. His retirement from music, so dignified and seemingly complete, was just another of the brilliant moves he has made throughout his life to stay ahead of the fame game, even as the rules of that game were being written. So seeing the announcement of this record this morning made me nervous: was the cool cracking? Was he going to be just another old rocker vying for the spotlight again? But no. For all the classicism of this song's sound, the sense of incompleteness, of questioning, of a mind still questing and acknowledging its fragility, means we are still in a state of suspension; Bowie is still evading us, still one step ahead, not offering or seeking any resolution or closure. Whether that sense will remain when the album comes, who knows? For now, he's doing it just as he should.

Overleaf, art critic Mark Hudson on the video to "Where Are We Now" and news of the album

Comments

I LOVE the record. Quite like

I LOVE the record. Quite like the video too.

OH my goodness all you

OH my goodness all you wannabe critics! Everywhere in the world David is celebrated today both because of hes birthday off caurse but also for hes amazing contribution to us all ! Cant you people just be happy ???? This is a very good song and I cant wait for the full album !! Fans have been waiting fore ten years so WOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO ! Thank you David :) Happy birthday love :)

I love his voice, it's still

I love his voice, it's still magical, and unmistakably Bowie...........sure, he sounds older, but he IS older, and he isn't trying to sing disco pop in an old voice, just a wonderfully melancholic chilled out track.........brilliant!

Hmm. The song's not bad at

Hmm. The song's not bad at all in the retrospective kind of way Graeme indicates. But the voice is - ageist remark this, sorry - very much that of a codger. It does amuse me, from the outside, how many undead old pop/rock stars turn up on TAD for review. At least there's more about responding to this than being kind or clinging on to What Was.

The vulnerability in the

The vulnerability in the voice is integral to the song's appeal. I'd say some emotional investment in, and knowledge of, Bowie's personal history and past career would help listners appreciate the quality of this song - its freighted with personal resonance and for that reason I find it a perfectly judged and very poignant return - and so thrillingly unexpected!

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