Do any of you guys remember about a year ago when I talked about the opera “Doctor Dee”? Well for those of you who missed it, Damon Albarn (best known for his work with Blur and Gorillaz) joined forces with Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, and an orchestra to do an opera about the Elizabethan era alchemist, occultist, and scholar John Dee. As a music lover and occult nerd I was immediately smitten with this bizarre idea and bummed that I wasn’t in England to see a performance. Then I learned that Damon Albarn released an album of the music titled “Dr. Dee”. It would be mine, oh yes, it would be mine.
It’s all the same players, Albarn, Allen, and the orchestra is the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. You find songs titled, “Edward Kelley”, “The Golden Dawn”, “A Man of England”, “9 Point Star”. The music is enjoyable and atmospheric. I had never noticed, until this album, how beautifully delicate Albarn’s singing voice can be. All of that said, this is definitely not a play it every day CD, or at least not for me. It’s not the right vibe for playing in the car while running errands, not for perhaps coming out of your computer speakers while trolling around Facebook. It’s not really pop. There is no rock. It is an opera, lightly sprinkled at times with a rock musician’s voice and sensibilities. None of that is to put down the album, it’s just something that should be understood if you’re considering picking up your own copy, which would be cool if you did.
Man I wish I could see Dr. Dee live! Take a look at this short video that shows clips of it being performed along with the reactions of those who saw it.
Here’s a music video for one of the more pop-ish songs from the album called “The Marvelous Dream”.
Why John Dee? Here’s a 7 minute interview Damon Albarn did with the Guardian about Dr. Dee.