Most helpful positive review
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The Best LP of 2012
on 12 December 2012
This only took three listens to become my LP of 2012. I have listened obsessively to it since I bought it and I still can't get over how utterly brilliant it is. Damon Albarn's muse is a thing of wonder as is his genius for combining seemingly unconnected musical ideas into a coherent whole.
The composer this most reminds me of is Benjamin Britten; the sparing accompaniment, rich wordplay, daring soundscapes and ethereal steely melodies.
Albarn could easily have turned in a 'Merrie Englande' exercise in mock folk and Morris tunes but it he resists and finds something entirely new, fusing gentle harp, piano, recorder and acoustic guitar.
'Cathedrals' is exquisitely poised and beautiful, 'Edward Kelley' is as unhinged as the character the song is about. '9 Point Star' is chilling and 'O Spirit, Animate Us' is modern classical music at its best. Lyrically it flashes between the 16th century and modern day mixing in alchemy, two Elizabeths and WWII fighters, and it works.
It's not Blur, Gorillaz, or any other Albarn project - it's a stand alone and simply brilliant, a totally immersive world all of its own.
The man is clearly a genius.