Monday 19 March 2018

Baroque, folk electronica . . . Albarn really can do it all

John Meagher

John Meagher

Damon albarn

Dr Dee



Say what you will about Damon Albarn, but there really is no denying his prodigious work-rate.

It's beginning to be difficult to keep up with a man whose CV includes fronting two of Britain's biggest bands of the past 20 years (Blur and the animated group Gorillaz), as well as a myriad side projects as diverse as an album of Mali music to a record featuring the rhythm section of Red Hot Chili Peppers.

This album -- a soundtrack to an opera of the same name that he co-wrote last year -- provides another intriguing chapter in the Albarn story.

Like most of his extracurricular activities in recent years, the quality remains laudably high and Dr Dee shows that he is willing to embrace just about any genre that takes his fancy.

Baroque-style music features prominently on this album -- appropriately enough considering that the titular Dr Dee was Queen Elizabeth I's trusted advisor.

But so too does traditional English folk music, some classical flourishes, avant-garde electronica and at least another dozen styles rarely to be heard together.

The music is unconventional and uncompromising.

It's likely to be among the weakest-selling albums of Albarn's eclectic and lengthy career, yet patient listeners will be richly rewarded, despite the lack of visual context, and for those who have embraced the post-Blur musician, it's yet another record to treasure.

KEY TRACKS A Man of England; Watching the Fire that Waltzed Away

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