Once I Was An Eagle
Are there any musical genres left that Damon Albarn has yet to tackle? Post-dubstep? Crunk?
Albarn's latest album under his own name (as compared to Blur, Gorillaz, The Good, The Bad and The Queen or Rocket Juice & the Moon) is the soundtrack to an opera that he composed and staged at the Manchester International Festival last year, and which transfers to London's Coliseum this summer.
The opera told the story of John Dee, an Elizabethan courtier, mathematician, occultist and astronomer who came to a sorry end. Without the visuals, this soundtrack is inevitably a tad fragmented: Albarn describes it as "strange pastoral folk" and it is that and many things besides.
There is little here for fans of Blur sing-a-longs, but open-minded music-lovers will appreciate the Syd Barrett-like whimsy of Apple Carts, the choral harmonies of Coronation and a beautifully yearning Albarn vocal performance on Cathedrals. His falsetto histrionics on the lute-driven Temptation Comes In The Afternoon evoke Blackadder chasing a minstrel through down a garden path, which has a certain entertainment value.
It's fitting that Albarn based his opera around an Elizabethan polymath as he is fast becoming our own 21st century musical Renaissance man. What's next? A grime libretto? A death metal symphony?