Damon Albarn

Blur, Maida Vale Studio, London

If now's the time to assess Blur's place in the grand scheme, this was a reminder that they were always streets ahead of the monobrows

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Album: Bill Frisell, Disfarmer (Nonesuch)

Even Damon Albarn and Jack White have some distance to go to equal the genre-bending achievements of Bill Frisell, not just the outstanding jazz guitarist of his era but also the most diversely prolific, equally at home providing accompaniment to Buster Keaton movies as he is collaborating with Elvis Costello.

Album: Damon Albarn, Monkey: Journey to the West (XL Recordings)

A series of songs written using the Chinese pentatonic scale and sung in Mandarin might be considered a hard sell, but with Jamie Hewlett's animations of Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy now on TV rotation in trailers for the BBC's Olympics coverage, Journey to the West appears to be in the process of becoming a cultural benchmark. Rightly so: there can't be many multimedia projects that are quite as satisfying and entertaining as this phantasmagoria of myth, music and mummery.