David Bowie marked his 66th birthday on Tuesday by throwing a surprise party for his fans and suddenly releasing a new single, "Where Are We Now?," early in the morning via iTunes. He also announced plans for a new album, The Next Day, his first in a decade, to follow in March.
The wistful, piano-driven ballad also has a video, featuring vintage film footage shot in Berlin, which can be watched below or on Bowie's relaunched website.
"Where Are We Now?" as produced by the artist's longtime cohort Tony Visconti and The Next Day will be out in Australia on March 8, in the United States on March 12 and in the rest of the world on March 11. Pre-order is available now with a deluxe version of the album planned that includes three bonusl tracks.
BBC News spoke to Visconti who touched on the secret nature of the album, praised Bowie's stamina and revealed a bit more about the overall sound of the record. "The material is so strong and beautiful," said Visconti. "If people are looking for classic Bowie they'll find that on this album, but if they're looking for innovative Bowie, they'll find that on this album too. It's all there."
According to an Iso/Columbia Records press release, the single and album appeared "as if out of nowhere."
"Throwing shadows and avoiding the industry treadmill is very David Bowie despite his extraordinary track record that includes album sales in excess of 130 million not to mention his massive contributions in the area of art, fashion, style, sexual exploration and social commentary," said the record label.
The surreal video — featuring a distorted, poppet-like Bowie and companion — was directed by Tony Oursler and deliberately reflects on Bowie's influential years in Berlin, with the singer gazing upon images of the auto repair shop beneath his old apartment.
Bowie's last album was 2003's Reality and the artist faced health difficulties the following year, undergoing heart surgery in 2004, interrupting his tour.
The tracklisting for The Next Day is:
1. The Next Day
2. Dirty Boys
3. The Stars (Are Out Tonight)
4. Love is Lost
5. Where Are We Now?
6. Valentine's Day
7. If You Can See Me
8. I'd Rather Be High
9. Boss of Me
10. Dancing Out in Space
11. How Does the Grass Grow?
12. (You Will) Set the World on Fire
13. You Feel So Lonely You Could Die