the rasx context

David Bowie: Black Tie White Noise

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was previously published in FreeStyle Mazagine. Selected links on this page lead to quite expensive but highly recommended CDs sold by

The Faker has turned himself to face him and we catch a glimpse of his warm impermanence: David Bowie has a new solo album, Black Tie White Noise. This new work he refuses to promote with a world tour for his reasons of being married to super model, Iman, one of the greatest genetic creations post-colonial Africa has ever cleptocratically produced. Bowie celebrates the nuptials with his instrumental “The Wedding” The stress is on instrumental this time as his last celebration of private-life bliss, the song “Kooks,” full of fantastic lyrics about his former wife and his son, from his 1971 album Hunky Dory, proved to be rather fantastic.

“The Wedding” brings David’s pet saxophone out of the funky wine cellar and co-producer Nile Rodgers seems to take this sound in stride coupling it with Lester Bowie’s Miles-Davis-like phrasing on the trumpet. For a positive appraisal of Bowie’s sax playing, let us suggest “Neuköln” from 1977’s Heroes another predominantly instrumental Bowie-Eno collaboration in Germany. Unlike the rather unhappy but elegant Low (1977) this largely instrumental album is a smooth mixture of jazz and techno textures, providing an upbeat but “cool” sound. “Pallas Athena” is the perfect example of this blend: 16-bit samples of vocals and violas, with a decent Bowie sax solo followed by Lester Bowie’s trumpet all over a technoized hip-hop beat.

There are vocals on this album, songs like “Don’t Let Me Down” or “I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday” finds Bowie as theatrical as ever. But his singing is mostly understated, in keeping with his post-1970’s work. He has always been an excellent lyricist, far beyond the pop-shit out today, and the title cut Black Tie White Noise is right up there. Lines like “Getting my facts from a Benetton ad/ looking through African eyes/ lit by the glare of an L.A. fire” is a valiant attempt by a European to analyze that which be surrounding the so-called “whitey guilt”—let us call it “thin whitey guilt” (from the over-used “Thin White Duke” Bowie epithet). It is an excellent compliment to other thin-whitey-guilt tunes that have made millions, namely “Let’s Dance,” “China Girl” or Fashion.

Since David Bowie is the Godfather of Pop, critics have always described him as being on the cutting edge. The opinion here is that time has finally caught up with this formidable aesthetic presence. His past achievements cannot be discounted: for example, he was one of the first of the Caucasian rock-n-rollers to sing in his own ethnic accent. But the past is (was) the past, dig? —But to corrupt his comment when asked about going on tour for this new album: Would you worry about being on the cutting edge if you were married to Iman?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Let us not forget about BowieNet. This is the place to find out what David Bowie is doing… “now.”