Published Jan 09, 2013Yesterday (January 8), music icon David Bowie celebrated his 66th birthday by revealing that he has an album called The Next Day due out March 12 via Columbia. After this surprise announcement, we've now got some more information about this unexpected new album, which is Bowie's first in a decade.
Producer Tony Visconti spoke with the BBC about what to expect from the new disc, promising that most of the collection would be more upbeat than the aching first single "Where Are We Now?"
Visconti said, "It's the only track on the album that goes this much inward for him. It's quite a rock album, the rest of the songs, so I thought to myself why is David coming out with this very slow, albeit beautiful, ballad why is he doing this? He should come out with a bang. But he is a master of his own life. I think this was a very smart move, linking the past with the future, and I think the next thing you hear from him is going to be quite different."
Visconti, who has produced some of Bowie's most celebrated material dating back to the '60s, said that recording took place in stages over an extended period of time.
"We never spent more than two to three weeks at a time recording, then we might take off as much as two months," he recalled. "Usually we'd work on one or two songs in an afternoon, and whip them into shape so they'd sound like great rock tracks. At that part there won't be any final vocals, there won't be lyrics. That's the way I've been working with him since The Man Who Sold the World, he hasn't really changed in his approach."
He also confirmed that Bowie is happy and healthy, and that his voice is in fine form. Visconti added, "I think the material on this album is extremely strong and beautiful, and if people are looking for classic Bowie they'll find it on this album, if they're looking for innovative Bowie, new directions, they're going to find that on this album too."
Not only has the promise of new music gotten people talking, but the album cover has caused quite a stir. Designed by Jonathan Barnbrook, it utilizes the front cover from 1977's Heroes but with the title crossed out and a white box covering Bowie's face. Barnbrook has now written a blog post explaining the design, revealing that he experimented with hundreds of different ways of subverting the Heroes artwork.
"The Heroes cover obscured by the white square is about the spirit of great pop or rock music which is 'of the moment,' forgetting or obliterating the past," he wrote. "The obscuring of an image from the past is also about the wider human condition; we move on relentlessly in our lives to the next day, leaving the past because we have no choice but to."
He went on to emphasize that the image conveys detachment and melancholy, and praised Bowie for his pleasant demeanour and willingness to "go with a radical idea and that takes courage and intelligence."
Interestingly, he also noted that "Where Are We Now?" is a comparison between Cold War-era Berlin and current Berlin. To read the full post with more background information about the album and its artwork, go here.