Album: Damon Albarn, Dr. Dee (Parlophone)

 

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The Independent Culture

Ironically, given the pronounced Englishness of performer and subject, Damon Albarn's latest project is less satisfying than his earlier internationalist crossovers.

A theatrical work about an Elizabethan polymath lured into paranormal disgrace by a medium, Dr Dee is sketched in folksy early-music timbres (theorbo, viols, reeds, pump organ), with classical singers shouldering much of the vocal duties. Melancholy of tone, it occasionally attains the antique industry of Michael Nyman's early Peter Greenaway scores, but the overall effect is more akin to the musical equivalent of a mock-tudorbethan semi. The best parts are those where Albarn blends in Eastern scales and African kora.

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