"The ambience conjured is dark and powerfully enigmatic, though it may not map out the journey of Dr Dee in a way that makes it inherently operatic without the context of seeing it on the stage."
Telling the story of Dr John Dee, 18th Century polymath and advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, Albarn has pulled out all the stops, frantic shrieks joining pitch-perfect sopranos on Watching The Fire That Waltzed Away, moody gothic harpsichords on Oh Spirit Animate Us and chanting choirs on Tree Of Beauty. The ambience conjured is dark and powerfully enigmatic, though it may not map out the journey of Dr Dee in a way that makes it inherently operatic without the context of seeing it on the stage.
The only inconsistency is in the form of Albarn's voice itself. He cameos along the way, appearing in the middle of The Golden Dawn and sounding like a gentle Cockney grocer on Apple Carts. The songs themselves are beautifully constructed, proof once more that neither age nor time is dimming Albarn's creativity, but they are merely songs that belong on a different record. Perhaps Albarn should consider a turn to folk music for his next project. Chances are he already has and it'll be another stroke of bizarre genius.
This week's new sets include tunes from Wavves (our Album Of The Week), Mercury Rev and Trivium, plus releases from locals Cold Chisel and Philadelphia Grand Jury.