‘Blackstar’ demonstrates experimental prowess

Bowie’s final bow highlights his innovative talents

Ethan Brown

Throughout a musical career spanning nearly 49 years, David Bowie’s artistic ability manifested itself in many forms. On his final album “Blackstar,” Bowie wonderfully captures the innovation found in today’s music scene, while sticking to the roots he originally reached stardom with.

‘Blackstar’ clearly establishes itself as one of Bowie’s riskier projects right away. The intro track, also titled “Blackstar,” begins solemnly, as a tortured Bowie wails over haunting strings and futuristic drums. This establishes a theme throughout the album, as sentiments of regret or sorrow mark each song, an eerie thought when factoring in Bowie’s death only two days after the album’s release.

The instrumentation in ‘Blackstar’ takes a very spiritual setting from start to finish. Most songs within the album rely heavily on elements of jazz. Bowie’s finest piece of work in “Blackstar” proves to be “Lazarus,” which combines many musical aspects into a fantastic song. The song, which addresses the theme of mortality, highlights a fantastic blend of production and lyrics. Bowie demonstrates a capacity for crystal clear songwriting over a beautiful mix of distant saxophones and massively distorted guitars. “Look up here, I’m in heaven,” Bowie sings, “I’ve got scars that can’t be seen.” The song seems to parallel the story of Dr. Lazarus, who also suffered from a terminal illness, like Bowie.

While “Blackstar” takes a very dark mood at times, the themes of self-reflection and nostalgia still feel beautiful. In one of Bowie’s more reflective songs, “Dollar Days,” he contemplates his past and future, questioning what will become of him in the afterlife. More saxophones combine with acoustic guitars and soulful piano chords, accumulating into a nearly perfect farewell song from Bowie to his personal experiences and fans.

When a star becomes too dense, it collapses into itself and becomes a black hole — a marvelous yet terrifying entity, a black star. This process thoroughly describes Bowie’s life and final album — a star so dense with talent and ambition who eventually collapsed into the inevitable. Each song carries meaning and symbolism far too deep to understand with just one listen. The project’s production, ghostly and sublime, compliments Bowie’s expertise of songwriting nearly perfectly. With ‘Blackstar,’ Bowie creates one of his most experimental albums to date and gives fans a beautifully poetic farewell album.

‘Blackstar’ David Bowie: 5/5