For David Bowie’s 25th record ★ (pronounced “Blackstar”) coming January 8, expect plenty of jazz influences. That’s certainly the case on his latest single Lazarus, the six minute dirge-like reflection on the life of the English musician.
“Look up here, I’m in heaven,” sings Bowie on the song which has the same name as his current off-Broadway musical. “I’ve got scars that can’t be seen / I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen / Everybody knows me now.”
Bowie produced Lazarus with friend and producer Tony Visconti, who told NPR that the upcoming record is a jazz record. “It wasn’t actually spoken out loud, but we were going to make a David Bowie album with jazz musicians, but they weren’t necessarily going to play jazz,” said Visconti. ”If we used rock musicians trying to play jazz, it would have been a very different album.”
His first record since 2013’s The Next Day,★ was inspired by forward-thinking musicians Kendrick Lamar and Death Grips, according to Consequence of Sound. Speaking on Lamar’s influence, Visconti told Rolling Stone that he and Bowie were listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar while cutting the record.
“We loved the fact Kendrick was so open-minded and he didn’t do a straight-up hip-hop record. He threw everything on there, and that’s exactly what we wanted to do. The goal, in many, many ways, was to avoid rock & roll.”
The record also features saxophonist/band leader Donnie McCaslin. “He sent me, I can’t remember how many tunes, maybe six or seven [demos] before the first time we got together to record, and every song was really strong and the demos were really strong,” said the musician to NPR. “And in fact, when we ended up recording, we pretty much were true to the demo forms he had sent. So it was tremendous.”
★ is set to come out on Bowie’s 69th birthday and also features former LCD Soundsystem member James Murphy on percussion. The video for Lazarus will be released on January 7, the day before the release of the record.