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Damon Albarn - The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows

  by Zena Grieg

published: 23 / 12 / 2021

Damon Albarn - The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows
Label: Transgressive Records
Format: CD


Evocative and intriguing second album for innovative ex-Blur musician/songwriter Damon Albarn upon which he moves into new territory

Recently acclaimed by Elton John as “One of the younger generation of singers with whom I feel a real affinity….he’s a free spirit and I love what he does”, Damon Albarn has just launched his second solo album, ‘The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Steam Flows’. Initially commissioned by the French Arts Festival Fete de Lumieres for a staging in Lyons but postponed because of the pandemic, the work was originally conceived as an orchestral piece, inspired by the wild volcanic landscapes of Iceland, where Albarn now lives. With the enforced change of plan due to COVID, Albarn changed the concept, abandoning the proposed symphonic sessions and instead completing the album using a vintage keyboard, drum machine and input from his friends in a small studio in Devon. The eleven-track collection is a suite of restrained, moody, often sombre songs with the natural world a metaphor for a reflective exploration of loss and rebirth - a striking, quieter contrast to his debut solo pop album ‘Everyday Robots’. Highlights include: the opener and title track (from the John Clare poem ‘Love and Memory’), a tribute to Nigerian drummer and regular Albarn contributor Tony Allen, who died in Paris in 2020, with Albarn’s piano and organ finely complemented by ex-Verve guitarist Simon Tong and talented cellist Josphine Stephenson; also, the subtle, atmospheric, percussion-driven ‘The Cormorant’ with its claustrophobic recollections and view of the light at the end: “Am I imprisoned on this island?/…That was black in the last year before this snow/Elsewhere, sometimes, I can see beyond the lighthouse"; the enticingly dissonant ‘Combustion’; ‘Polaris’ with its interweaving of hope and nostalgia; and the closer ‘Particles’ with its paean to nature and belief in love as the anchor. Sonically diverse, with dreamlike songs that stream through an emotional and untamed internal and external landscape, Damon Albarn's new album is an evocative and intriguing move into new musical territory for this innovative ex-Blur musician/songwriter.

Track Listing:-
1 The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows
2 The Cormorant
3 Royal Morning Blue
4 Combustion
5 Daft Wader
6 Darkness To Light
7 Esja
8 The Tower Of Montevideo
9 Giraffe Trumpet Sea
10 Polaris
11 Particles

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Monkey : Journey to the West (2008)
Appalling new album from Damon Albarn, who has turned his attentions to Chinese opera with absolutely dreadful consequences

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