David Bowie plays a disturbed hospital patient in his creepy video for “Lazarus.” Johan Renck – who previously helmed Bowie’s 10-minute “Blackstar” clip – creates a nightmarish atmosphere, cutting between two scenarios: the singer writhing in a hospital bed, wearing a bandage with button eyes, and emerging from a cabinet to write a letter.
Bowie’s eccentric performance recalls his brief, scene-stealing turn in David Lynch’s 1992 freak-out Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. The jazzy strains of “Lazarus” only add to that vibe, with layers of saxophone and crashing distortion punctuating each bizarre image.
“One could only dream about collaborating with a mind like that; let alone twice,” Renck said in a statement of his work with Bowie. “Intuitive, playful, mysterious and profound … I have no desire to do any more videos knowing the process never ever gets as formidable and fulfilling as this was. I’ve basically touched the sun.”
Bowie’s 25th studio album, ★ (pronounced “Blackstar”), is out Friday, January 8th. “We were listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar,” producer Tony Visconti told Rolling Stone of the LP’s experimental influence. “We wound up with nothing like that, but we loved the fact Kendrick was so open-minded and he didn’t do a straight-up hip-hop record. He threw everything on there, and that’s exactly what we wanted to do. The goal, in many, many ways, was to avoid rock & roll.”