Ahead of the January 8 release of his new album★ (it’s pronounced Blackstar and yes, the star is italicized), Bowie shared a 10-minute video for the album’s title track, which is confusingly called “Blackstar,” not “★.” The video is completely insane. There are convulsing dancers and spookier Children of the Corn and a woman with a tail and writhing scarecrows and Bowie looks like a mix between a cursed doll and the creepy eyeball man from Pan’s Labyrinth (as conceived by Lars Von Trier) until he turns into a beautiful melting Doomsday prophet. It’s pretty great.
The music, especially after 2013’s safe, backward-looking (and mostly very good) The Next Day, is especially refreshing. ★ was promised as a “completely bonkers” avant-jazz album, and the title track is most definitely that. At times Bowie flies too close to the sun (the first three minutes or so could’ve been cooked up by Flight of the Conchords, if they were still in the David Bowie parody game and also on mescaline), but no matter: Avant-garde Bowie is back.