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viernes, 3 de junio de 2016

David Bowie - Blackstar (2016)


Pedro Rock nos presenta a "Blackstar", el estremecedor álbum que David Bowie lanzó 3 días antes de morir, muy metido en la experimentación pero pisando los terrenos del jazz, y que según dicen los críticos es uno de los mejores discos que ha sacado a lo largo de su extensa y prolífica carrera.

Artista: David Bowie
Álbum: Blackstar
Año: 2016
Género: Art-Rock / Rock Alternativo / Industrial
Nacionalidad: Inglaterra


Lista de Temas:
01. Blackstar
02. 'Tis a pity she was a whore
03. Lazarus
04. Sue (or in a season of crime)
05. Girl loves me
06. Dollar days
07. I can't give everything away

Alineación:
- David Bowie / voz, guitarra acústica, mezclas, productor, orquestación, "Fender Guitar" (3), armónica (7).
Donny McCaslin / flauta, saxofón, instrumentos de viento.
Ben Monder / guitarra.
Jason Lindner / piano, órgano, teclados.
Tim Lefebvre / bajo.
Mark Guiliana / batería, percusión.
Tony Visconti / orquestación.
James Murphy / percusión (4 y 5).



El lanzamiento del álbum se hizo el viernes, el día que cumplió 69 años. En el video de "Lazarus", se observa al cantante, que murió de cáncer, acostado sobre una cama, mientras que las primeras palabras de la canción rezan:

"Mira hacia arriba, estoy en el cielo/Tengo cicatrices, que no pueden ser vistas" (Look up here, I'm in heaven / I've got scars, that can't be seen').



Tras conocerse la noticia de su fallecimiento, dada a conocer por su hijo Duncan Jones, las primeras líneas de esa canción cobran fuerza para muchos. Este último álbum de David Bowie, "Blackstar" va a empalmarse en el blog cabezón sobre otro trabajo sobre enfermos terminales, ya que en un rato también publicaré el muy buen EP de los españoles Luttopia llamado "5 Estaciones para un Arbol".
Para su producción, Bowie buscó ayuda de artistas reconocidos en el mundo del jazz, el productor Tony Visconti reveló en 2014 que ya se encontraban trabajando en nueva música: "Si hubiéramos empleado a los antiguos músicos de David, tendríamos gente de rock tocando jazz. Y con gente de jazz tocando rock, le damos la vuelta. El objetivo de muchas maneras era evitar el rock and roll".
El giro se dio y el resultado fue la última obra de David Bowie que ahora presentamos en el blog cabezón.


Entre las extravagancias del disco y más allá de la lírica críptica aparentemente (y seguramente) referidas a su próximo fallecimiento, un fan ha descubierto un pequeño regalo que el músico hizo a todos los que compraron la edición en vinilo de este álbum: si se ilumina la estrella negra de la portada del disco con luz solar aparecerá un manto de estrellas que cubre toda la carátula.
Sobre el disco en sí, yo aún no lo escuché salvo sus prometedores videos que copio en éste post, por lo que solamente voy a copiar el comentario de terceros...

Hacerle un homenaje a alguien que falleció reciente no es algo precisamente original, pero tampoco es fácil. Y si alguien se pregunta del porque decidí reseñar el disco no es solo para homenajear sino por que el mismo se ganó un lugar en nuestra pagina como una obra en si. Aclaro que nunca fui fan de David Bowie si bien siempre lo tuve presente y en los últimos años había aprendido a respetar y admirar su talento y su obra; para disiparles las dudas sobre sospechas de oportunismos les recomiendo visitar el post de grandes discos conceptuales donde hablé de ¨Ziggy stardust¨ (1972), uno de los mejores álbumes conceptuales de la historia del Rock.
Seguro para muchos estuvo siempre asociado al pop donde creo éxitos como ¨Loving the alien¨, ¨Let’s dance¨ o ¨Modern love¨ pero no cabe duda que sus inicios en el Glitter Rock en los ’70 (al que muchas veces hacia guiños en cada uno de sus discos), contribuyeron tanto musical como estéticamente a una gran camada de artistas, Marilyn Manson le debe la vida y es algo que nunca tuvo problemas en reconocer.
Tampoco hay que olvidar sus facetas como productor y resucitador de carreras; desde Iggy Pop y Tina Turner cuyas vidas musicales estaban a la deriva, el las salvó y los devolvió al estrellato. O sus incursiones el cine como en el gran clásico de fantasía ¨Laberinto¨, la exitosa comedia ¨Zoolander¨ donde oficio de arbitro en el desopilante duelo de pasarela entre Owen Wilson y Ben Stiller y en ¨El gran truco¨ que personificó ni más ni menos que a Nikola Tesla. Sí, el duque blanco no se perdía una!, multifacético y camaleónico como pocos!.
Ahora yendo a su última producción discográfica, si con el anterior ¨The Next day¨ (2013) realizó un ejercicio autorreferencial recordando mayormente sus inicios rockeros, ¨Blackstar¨, editado el mismo día que cumplió 69 años, lo reconcilia con su faceta más experimental y sombría de los ’90. Lo que resulta una despedida a lo grande solo como un grande como David era capaz de hacer.
¨Blackstar¨, como mencionaba antes, es un disco puramente experimental, sombrío e intrigante de naturaleza gótica que encuentra en el Jazz fusión y pequeñas trazas de Rock en sus cimientos. La estrella negra nos regala su fulgor en la inicial y homónima Blackstar de casi 10 minutos de sonidos casi trip hoperos, melodías de saxo y sobrias vocalizaciones de Bowie para luego tomar caminos más amables y luminosos pero de ninguna forma accesibles y facilistas. Pasando por la portentosa y más animada 'Tis a Pity She Was a Whore con colchones de teclados y en ocasiones marcando las melodías con muy buenas intervenciones de saxo.
El Rock casi procesado de la andrógina y descolocante Sue (Or in a Season of Crime). Si de rarezas hablamos no se puede pasar por alto el Jazz oscuro y casi ambiental de esas que mostró Faith No More en ¨Album of the year¨ (1997) de Girl Loves Me cantada en Nadsat, el dialecto de Alexander DeLarge en ¨La naranja mecánica¨. Para el final llega la muy bonita I Can't Give Everything Away que no desentonaría para nada con sus discos más poperos y exitosos de los ’80 pero que ni él se hubiese animado a ponerlo como sencillo de difusión, le da al disco un broche de excepcional.
Lo bueno del disco es que, más allá de la experimentación y el tono sombrío e intimista del mismo, en el fondo sabemos que se trata de un disco de David Bowie. Tal vez la única contra es que el disco carece de hits potenciales (si bien tiene su corte de difusión) aunque el enfoque del álbum es si o si para escucharlo en conjunto y dejarse llevar por los 40 minutos de magia que nos supo regalar este genial artista inglés.
Sí, David Bowie se fue victima de un maldito cáncer que hace muy poco también se llevó a Lemmy, pero antes de eso nos dejó uno de los mejores discos de su carrera. Ya tengo mi segundo disco favorito del año. Gracias y hasta siempre David Bowie!!!!!.
Christian Darchez


Vamos con un par de buenos comentarios en inglés...

With his new album, rock’s oldest futurist returns to his first love, says Neil McCormick
After a 10-year absence, David Bowie’s surprise return to music in 2013 was hailed as the most glorious comeback in pop history. A record-breaking V&A exhibition reminded us of the extraordinary scope of his career. The music he offered on his comeback album, The Next Day, sounded like a celebration of Bowie’s own past, swaggering and direct, crammed with echoes and motifs from his back catalogue – Bowie as self-mythologiser.
The niggling concern was that such retro references might reflect a lack of genuine inspiration though, and a kind of career end. In the light of his eagerly anticipated new album, Blackstar, however, The Next Day might better be viewed as a clearing of the decks.
But for his 27th studio album, has Bowie gone jazz? On first listens to Blackstar, released on January 8, Bowie’s 69th birthday, it certainly sounds like rock’s oldest futurist has dusted down his saxophone. They are tooting, parping, wailing and gusting all over the place, occupying rhythmic, atmospheric and lead parts, with guitars and keyboards intermingling in a weave of supporting roles.
The saxophone was Bowie’s first instrument, which he started learning in his pre-teens inspired by a bohemian, jazz-loving elder half-brother, Terry Burns. Bowie once said that, aged 14, he couldn’t decide if he wanted “to be a rock’n’roll singer or John Coltrane”.
David Bowie: the man who loved books
Even in his rise to rock fame, Bowie remained a creature of the jazz age, at least in the sense of the boundary-crashing freedom that characterises his work.
A new single, Lazarus, released today, may kick off in the vague realm of contemporary music, with spectral guitar and stuttering rhythms calling to mind the young British trio the xx, but it is not long before those saxophones are sighing and the beat is fragmenting.
Just about holding it together are the familiar tones of Bowie’s teeth-gritted, tight-chested whisper of a vocal, proclaiming it is “This way or no way / You know I’ll be free / Just like that bluebird / Now ain’t that just like me?” Sure sounds like jazz to me.
The ambience is dense and lush, shaped by odd chord variations, burblings of electronica and sudden interjections of strange sound effects. It feels as bold and weird as anything in Bowie’s back catalogue, sure to delight some and infuriate others.
An early version of Sue (Or In A Season of Crime) hinted at this new musical direction on his 2014 career compilation Nothing Has Changed. It mixed a jazzy melody to skittering drum’n’bass with a blizzard of horns, recalling the avant-garde experimentalism of Sun Ra and Ornette Colman.
Bowie recruited his core band from the 55 Bar, a venerable jazz club in New York’s West Village, not far from his home in SoHo, where he has lived since 2003 with his wife Iman and 15-year-old daughter.
He stopped by unannounced one Sunday night in 2014 to watch a quartet led by inventive saxophonist Donny McCaslin, featuring drummer Mark Guiliana, bassist Tim Lefebvre and keyboardist Jason Lindner.
Bowie would have been treated to a set of dazzling, freewheeling improvised instrumentals, with roots in the early Seventies jazz fusion of Miles Davis, Weather Report and the Yellowjackets. Bowie subsequently invited the band to secret recording sessions with long-serving producer Tony Visconti in January this year at the Magic Shop, a discreet, surprisingly small and very old school studio near Bowie’s home where he recorded The Next Day.
What Bowie has created with this hardcore jazz crew, though, is not something any jazz fan would recognise and is all the better for it. At its best, free jazz is amongst the most technically advanced and audacious music ever heard but it can be uncompromisingly difficult to listen to for the non-aficionado.
The improvisational elements that make it so gladiatorial and hypnotic live can make it over complex and inaccessible on record. Bowie’s intriguing experiment has been to take this wild, abstract form and try to turn it into songs. Blackstar is an album on which words and melody gradually rise from a sonic swamp to sink their hooks in. It is probably as close as free jazz has ever got to pop.
Only seven tracks and 42 minutes long, Blackstar is impressively hard to place in his back catalogue and feels completely self-contained. It has some of the off-kilter character of his late Seventies Berlin trilogy (Low, Heroes and Lodger) but little of their electronic flavour.
It is shot through with a late-life melancholy that sits intriguingly with the jazzy modulations. Beneath the swooning cinematic rush of Dollar Days beats a gorgeous, bittersweet piano ballad on which Bowie proclaims himself “dying to... fool them all again and again” but the phrase breaks apart until he sounds like he might be singing “I’m dying too.”
It is a song that evokes and then dismisses regret. “If I never see the English evergreens I’m running to,” Bowie sings, “It’s nothing to me.” On epic closing track, I Can’t Give Everything Away, Bowie sounds like he is grappling with his own mystery: “Saying more and meaning less / Saying no but meaning yes / This is all I ever meant / This is the message that I sent.”
What can it all mean? The man himself gives no interviews and apparently remains firm in his insistence that he will not tour again. Looking for clues in his music, we are confronted with inscrutability. A new Bowie co-scripted musical, Lazarus, opened off-Broadway last week, and is reportedly as impenetrable as it is lovely to look at.
Baffling is a word that comes up a lot in reviews. But Bowie is a rare act who is at his best when he is at his least accessible.
Lazarus is currently the hottest theatre ticket in New York. How wonderful if all of this actually represents an entirely new phase in Bowie’s extraordinary career. How fantastic to have an album as rich and strange as Blackstar that refuses to yield in a few listens.
It suggests that, like a modern day Lazarus of pop, Bowie is well and truly back from beyond.
Neil McCormick

Blackstar has David Bowie embracing his status as a no-fucks icon, clutching onto remnants from the past as exploratory jazz and the echos of various mad men soundtrack his freefall.
David Bowie has died many deaths yet he is still with us. He is popular music’s ultimate Lazarus: Just as that Biblical figure was beckoned by Jesus to emerge from his tomb after four days of nothingness, Bowie has put many of his selves to rest over the last half-century, only to rise again with a different guise. This is astounding to watch, but it's more treacherous to live through; following Lazarus’ return, priests plotted to kill him, fearing the power of his story. And imagine actually being such a miracle man—resurrection is a hard act to follow.

Bowie knows all this. He will always have to answer to his epochal work of the 1970s, the decade in which he dictated several strands of popular and experimental culture, when he made reinvention seem as easy as waking up in the morning. Rather than trying to outrun those years, as he did in the '80s and '90s, he is now mining them in a resolutely bizarre way that scoffs at greatest-hits tours, nostalgia, and brainless regurgitation.

His new off-Broadway musical is called Lazarus, and it turns Bowie’s penchant for avatars into an intriguing shell game: The disjointed production features actor Michael C. Hall doing his best impression of Bowie’s corrupted, drunk, and immortal alien from the 1976 art film The Man Who Fell to Earth. Trapped in a set that mimics a Manhattan penthouse, Hall presses himself up to his high skyscraper windows as he sings a new Bowie song also called "Lazarus." "This way or no way, you know, I’ll be free," he sings, smudging his hands against the glass. "Just like that bluebird." Bowie sings the same song on Blackstar, an album that has him clutching onto remnants from the past as exploratory jazz and the echos of various mad men soundtrack his freefall.

Following years of troubling silence, Bowie returned to the pop world with 2013’s The Next Day. The goodwill surrounding his return could not overcome the album’s overall sense of stasis, though. Conversely, on Blackstar, he embraces his status as a no-fucks icon, a 68-year-old with "nothing left to lose," as he sings on "Lazarus." The album features a quartet of brand-new collaborators, led by the celebrated modern jazz saxophonist Donny McCaslin, whose repertoire includes hard bop as well as skittering Aphex Twin covers. Bowie’s longtime studio wingman Tony Visconti is back as co-producer, bringing along with him some continuity and a sense of history.
Because as much as Blackstar shakes up our idea of what a David Bowie record can sound like, its blend of jazz, codes, brutality, drama, and alienation is not without precedent in his work. Bowie’s first proper instrument was a saxophone, after all, and as a preteen he looked up to his older half-brother Terry Burns, who exposed him to John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, and Beat Generation ideals. The links connecting Bowie, his brother, and jazz feel significant. Burns suffered from schizophrenia throughout his life; he once tried to kill himself by jumping out of a mental hospital window and eventually committed suicide by putting himself in front of a train in 1985.
Perhaps this helps explain why Bowie has often used jazz and his saxophone not for finger-snapping pep but rather to hint at mystery and unease. It’s there in his close collaborations with avant-jazz pianist Mike Garson, from 1973’s "Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)" all the way to 2003’s "Bring Me the Disco King." It’s in his wild squawks on 1993’s "Jump They Say," an ode to Burns. But there is no greater example of the pathos that makes Bowie’s saxophone breathe than on "Subterraneans" from 1977’s Low, one of his most dour (and influential) outré moments. That song uncovered a mood of future nostalgia so lasting that it’s difficult to imagine the existence of an act like Boards of Canada without it. Completing the circle, Boards of Canada were reportedly one of Bowie’s inspirations for Blackstar. At this point, it is all but impossible for Bowie to escape himself, but that doesn’t mean he won’t try.
Thematically, Blackstar pushes on with the world-weary nihilism that has marked much of his work this century. "It’s a head-spinning dichotomy of the lust for life against the finality of everything," he mused around the release of 2003’s Reality. "It’s those two things raging against each other… that produces these moments that feel like real truth." Those collisions come hard and strong throughout the album, unpredictable jazz solos and spirited vocals meeting timeless stories of blunt force and destruction. The rollicking "'Tis a Pity She Was a Whore" gets its name from a controversial 17th-century play in which a man has sex with his sister only to stab her in the heart in the middle of a kiss. Bowie’s twist involves some canny gender-bending ("she punched me like a dude"), a robbery, and World War I, but the gist is the same—humans will always resort to a language of savagery when necessary, no matter where or when. See also: "Girl Loves Me," which has Bowie yelping in the slang originated by A Clockwork Orange’s ultraviolent droogs.
Though this mix of jazz, malice, and historical role-play is intoxicating, Blackstar becomes whole with its two-song denouement, which balances out the bruises and blood with a couple of salty tears. These are essentially classic David Bowie ballads, laments in which he lets his mask hang just enough for us to see the creases of skin behind it. "Dollar Days" is the confession of a restless soul who could not spend his golden years in a blissful British countryside even if he wanted to. "I’m dying to push their backs against the grain and fool them all again and again," he sings, the words doubling as a mantra for Blackstar and much of Bowie’s career. Then, on "I Can’t Give Everything Away," he once again sounds like a frustrated Lazarus, stymied by a returning pulse. This tortured immortality is no gimmick: Bowie will live on long after the man has died. For now, though, he’s making the most of his latest reawakening, adding to the myth while the myth is his to hold.
Ryan Dombal



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