“★”, the lead single and title track to David Bowie’s upcoming 25th studio album is an epic 10-minute feat of jazz-tronica. According to a new profile in Rolling Stone, much of Bowie’s inspiration to experiment with new sounds and textures was derived from listening to Kendrick Lamar, who himself released a progressive vanguard of a record earlier this year with To Pimp A Butterfly.
Longtime Bowie producer Tony Visconti explained to Rolling Stone, “We were listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar. We wound up with nothing like that, but 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.”
Along with Visconti, Bowie brought in LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, who plays percussion on two of the album’s eight tracks. In fact, Murphy was originally in line to co-produce the album, but his other commitments limited his participation.
A jazz quartet led by Donny McCaslin was also heavily involved in the recording of ★, invited into the studio after Bowie caught them performing live at a West Village jazz club.
Though Bowie was not interviewed for the article and has no plans for any public appearances promoting the album, Rolling Stone disputes recent rumors that Bowie is in failing heath, citing people involved in the creation of the album.
Below, revisit the accompany short film for “★”, and look for the album beginning January 8th.