David Bowie has released the second video from his forthcoming new album, "Blackstar," and it's as surreally disconcerting as the first. A fever-dream adaption of the song "Lazarus," the video finds our hero strapped to a hospital bed, sheets pulled up to his neck, his eyes wrapped in the same bandages he wore in the first "Blackstar" clip, for the album's title track.
Like that video, "Lazarus" was directed by Johan Renck. The textures are the same: A protagonist finds himself on unsteady ground, lost, confused and enduring some sort of misery.
Director Johan Renck commented on the experience of visually interpreting that song and "Lazarus," and collaborating with Bowie in general.
"One could only dream about collaborating with a mind like that; let alone twice. Intuitive, playful, mysterious and profound... I have no desire to do any more videos knowing the process never ever gets as formidable and fulfilling as this was. I've basically touched the sun," Renck said in a statement.
You've likely seen Renck's work. The Swedish director is responsible for memorable videos for Lana Del Rey, New Order, the Knife, Beyonce and Robyn, among many others. The director's most prominent work so far, the new TV series "The Last Panthers," started airing in England last fall, and will have its U.S. premiere on Sundance TV in the spring. Bowie's music is featured in the opening credits.
That's a lot of Bowie after a relative drought, but it's a well-poised return. His new album comes out on Friday, and early reviews are mostly gushing. Recorded in New York with a group of jazz players, the seven-song album finds the artist, who turns 69 on Friday, revealing nuances within his muse that feel both familiar and breathtakingly new.
In addition to delivering ethereal visual treatments, Bowie and his label are committing to at least one beautiful object in support of "Blackstar." Compact disc and digital versions arrive Friday, but more desirable to collectors will be the limited edition die-cut vinyl LP package featuring 180-gram black vinyl, a die-cut cover art gatefold jacket and a 16-page color booklet. Bowie's online store describes the album sleeve as "a gatefold with die-cut star cover which you 'look through' to see the vinyl inside."