No Plan EP by David Bowie

The Starman briefly pops back from the grave bearing new music to celebrate his seventieth birthday.

This new Bowie EP consists of Blackstar’s ‘Lazarus’ and three unreleased tracks from the Blackstar recording sessions with producer Tony Visconti.

‘Lazarus’ is of course a very reputable song at this point. It is amongst the most confrontational songs that Bowie wrote about his own death with its expressive lyrics, slow marching tempo, dark guitar tones and melancholy saxophones.

The title track ‘No Plan’ is a piece of progressive soft rock with some additional flutes, synthesizers and quirky chord progressions. Lyrically, Bowie seems to be conceptualising death as something where one is still conscious but cannot see, feel or sense anything. It’s an intriguing listen but I can understand that it’d be difficult to place it in Blackstar’s tracklist.

‘Killing a Little Time’ is a very sinister track in which Bowie has a more unpleasant confrontation with the end of his life. It incorporates these dissonant heavy-metal style guitars, chaotic polyrhythmic drums and haunting pianos and woodwind; not too dissimilar from Bowie’s experimentation with industrial rock in the 1990s.

The EP ends with the much more straightforward ‘When I Met You’. It incorporates a more straight-up 70s glam rock style characteristic of Bowie, though still a song on the subject of death. It’s hard to understand specifically who “You” is in this song, whether it be his fans, his acquaintances, God or Death personified. However this track certainly sounds unique in all of the Blackstar-era tracks.

It’s difficult to grasp any kind of specific ordering or structure in this EP’s tracklist. Along with the rather basic cover art, it seems just like a posthumous compilation. However this should not stop you from appreciating these tracks greatly, certainly if you were a fan of Blackstar.

Fred Savage

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