British music legend David Bowie has released his first single in a decade. It's called "Where Are We Now?" but his location is no enigma: Bowie's back in Berlin, his home for a time in the 1970s.
David Bowie launched his new single and music video on his website to coincide with his 66th birthday. The announcement on his davidbowie.com website also promised the future release of the artist's first album since 2003, which is already available to pre-order.
"January the 8th is of course David Bowie's birthday, a timely moment for such a treasure to appear as if out of nowhere," a statement on the website said. "Throwing shadows and avoiding the industry treadmill is very David Bowie despite his extraordinary track record."
Bowie played a massive concert in Berlin in 1987, in the last days of the wall
The 14-track album, "The Next Day," will be released on March 11.
Bowie's last live performance was in 2006 and his public absence had prompted rumors about his health.
British music critics swooned over the comeback, with Alexis Petridis of the Guardian describing Bowie's voice as "gorgeously fragile," and expressing awe at the secrecy the artist managed to maintain in the information age.
"The main reason it's created such a fuss is simply because no one knew," Petridis said.
David Smyth from London's Evening Standard called the song "gentle, elegiac and stunningly beautiful."
Bowie's in Berlin
German paper Die Welt took a slightly tougher line, saying Bowie "whispers the refrain 'Walking the dead' like a crooner receiving his last rites."
The video's lyrics appear in text on screen as the song is sung.
The paper also notices that the opening line: "Had to get the train to Potzdamer Platz" boasts a spelling error, saying "Potsdamer Platz is written Potzdamer Platz in Bowie's memory, [the song] is a somewhat altered view of an entirely altered city."
Bowie lived in Berlin between 1976 and 1979, creating his "Berlin Trilogy" of albums "Low," Heroes," and "Lodger" in that period.
The song takes listeners through parts of the then divided city, with the second verse placing Bowie in the legendary "Dschungel" (Jungle) nightclub on Nürnberger Strasse.
The footage shows Bowie's face crudely superimposed onto a doll on a table in what appears to be his old Berlin flat. The largely motionless face of a woman, as yet unidentified, adorns the top of another doll, with the two sat arm-in-arm on a small couch.
Born David Jones in South London in 1947, Bowie has sold an estimated 140 million albums in a career spanning more than 40 years. He shot to fame in 1969 with the album "Space Oddity."
msh/hc (AFP, Reuters)