LONDON (Reuters) - David Bowie marked his 69th birthday on Friday with the release of a new album, "Blackstar", with critics giving the thumbs up to the latest work in a long and innovative career.
The singer, songwriter, actor and artist returns to the music scene after 2013's chart-topping "The Next Day", itself released after a 10-year gap.
"Blackstar", co-produced by Bowie's long-time collaborator Tony Visconti, features only seven songs, but critics praised the latest work, with Britain's Guardian newspaper calling it "a spellbinding break with (Bowie's) past".
The album is part jazz but full of what NME describes as "warped showtunes, skronking industrial rock, soulful balladeering, airy folk-pop, even hip-hop".
Ahead of Friday's release, Rolling Stone magazine last month wrote that the "arty, unsettling 'Blackstar' is Bowie's best anti-pop masterpiece since the Seventies".
The singer this week premiered the video for single "Lazarus", in which he is seen lying in what appears to be a hospital bed with his eyes bandaged.
It was directed by music video and commercial director Johan Renck, who also worked on the film for the album's nearly 10-minute title track.
"I have no desire to do any more videos knowing the process never ever gets as formidable and fulfilling as this was," Renck said in an online statement. "I've basically touched the sun."
Born David Jones, Bowie rose to fame with 1969's "Space Oddity" and a bit later through his jumpsuit-wearing alter ego Ziggy Stardust.
In the last few years, the chart-topping singer has kept a low profile after undergoing emergency heart surgery in 2004.
His last live performance was at a New York charity concert in 2006.
Reporting By Marie-Louise Gumuchian Editing by Jeremy Gaunt