Leah Kardos, "Blackstar Theory: The Last Works of David Bowie" (Bloomsbury, 2022)

Summary

Blackstar Theory: The Last Works of David Bowie (Bloomsbury, 2022) takes a close look at David Bowie's ambitious last works: his surprise 'comeback' project The Next Day (2013), the off-Broadway musical Lazarus (2015) and the album that preceded the artist's death in 2016 by two days, Blackstar. The book explores the swirl of themes that orbit and entangle these projects from a starting point in musical analysis and features new interviews with key collaborators from the period: producer Tony Visconti, graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook, musical director Henry Hey, saxophonist Donny McCaslin and assistant sound engineer Erin Tonkon.

These works tackle the biggest of ideas: identity, creativity, chaos, transience and immortality. They enact a process of individuation for the Bowie meta-persona and invite us to consider what happens when a star dies. In our universe, dying stars do not disappear - they transform into new stellar objects, remnants and gravitational forces. The radical potential of the Blackstar is demonstrated in the rock star supernova that creates a singularity resulting in cultural iconicity. It is how a man approaching his own death can create art that illuminates the immortal potential of all matter in the known universe.

Leah Kardos is a senior lecturer in music at Kingston University London, UK, where she co-founded the Visconti Studio with music producer Tony Visconti. She specializes in the areas of record production, pop aesthetics and criticism, and exploring interdisciplinary approaches to creative practice.

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Bradley Morgan is a media arts professional in Chicago and author of U2's The Joshua Tree: Planting Roots in Mythic America. He manages partnerships on behalf of CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, serves as a co-chair of the associate board at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and volunteers in the music archive at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Bradley Morgan on Twitter.

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Bradley Morgan

Bradley Morgan is a media arts professional in Chicago and author of U2's The Joshua Tree: Planting Roots in Mythic America. He manages partnerships on behalf of CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, serves as a co-chair of the associate board at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and volunteers in the music archive at the Old Town School of Folk Music. His forthcoming books are "Frank Zappa's America: Music, Satire, & the Battle Against the Christian Right" (LSU Press, Spring 2025) and "U2: Until the End of the World" (Palazzo Editions, Fall 2025). He enjoys listening to records with his ginger cat Rusty. Bradley Morgan on Twitter.

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