Strange Pastoral Folk
Forget anything you know about Englishman Damon Albarn being the singer/songwriter of alt-rock band Blur, and forget about all the work he’s done with Gorillaz. Albarn’s latest project, an 18-track album titled Dr Dee (Virgin) which is inspired by the life of John Dee (1527–1608), mathematician, alchemist, philosopher and advisor to Elizabeth I, was created for a stage production depicting Dee’s fall from prominence to poverty. The album is described as combining “early English choral and instrumentation alongside modern, West African and Renaissance sounds” along with Albarn’s vocals.
The album’s first track “The Golden Dawn” consists of almost four minutes of instrumental music, including sounds such as singing birds, gusty winds, and chiming clocks. It’s what you’ll hear throughout the entire album, as well as a dark tone, containing a church-like, gloomy organ and orchestral choir vocals.
It has to be said that sometimes the vocals, such as in “Temptation Comes in the Afternoon”, are reminiscent of male Monty Python characters using falsetto voices while playing women roles.
If folky choir opera music isn’t your thing, this is at least a great album to relax to, and if you’re one of those types that will throw on some music before going to sleep, try Dr Dee. Otherwise, this album caters to a very specific ear and it isn’t likely you’ll be putting any of these tracks onto a playlist or mixtape. Not sure if it’s right to consider him a Renaissance man, but what can be said about David Albarn is that he has the ability to take any musical direction he wants to.