Bowie makes cosmic return with first single from new album

David Bowie has released "Blackstar", the first single from his new album of the same name (AFP Photo/Johannes Eisele)
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London (AFP) - British rock icon David Bowie on Friday took another dive into the space theme that has run throughout his career, releasing "Blackstar", the first single from his album of the same name.

A 9:59-long music video appeared on YouTube and immediately had fans heralding a return to form for the 68-year-old and the latest chapter in the story of Major Tom -- the fictional astronaut frequently referenced in his work.

"Super excited for the album now, it's going to be weird bowie!" wrote commenter Marc Skeldon below the video, which had already clocked up more than 200,000 views.

The video begins on a distant planet, where a young woman discovers a decomposed astronaut while Bowie chants over the top in a haunting Middle Eastern scale.

"This completes the trilogy: Space Oddity (introduction of Major Tom), Ashes to Ashes (the resurrection of Major Tom), BLACKSTAR (the god status of Major Tom). Well done Dave!" wrote commenter Tony Martin.

Packed with religious imagery, artistic references and nods to the past, the disturbing tension of both the song and video is only briefly released with a section of pure pop midway through.

The album "Blackstar" will be launched on January 8, 2016 -- the artist's 69th birthday -- and follows 2013's "The Next Day", one of more than 20 albums Bowie has released over a career spanning more than four decades.

A pioneer of glam rock, Bowie has long pursued interests in art and theatre and recently announced a series of new projects.

The single is being used as the opening title song to the television crime series "The Last Panthers", currently being shown in Britain and France, Bowie's first foray into television music in two decades.

He also penned the music for "Lazarus", a play that due to open in New York next month that is inspired by the science fiction novel "The Man Who Fell to Earth".

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