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East meets West,
This review is from: Monkey: Journey To The West (Audio CD)
Everyone who saw the two-minute animated ident for the BBC's Olympic coverage last year will have a pretty good idea what to expect from this soundtrack to Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett's epic East meets West operetta. Bubbly synthesizers, sweet Chinese vocals and various kinds of Eastern instrumentation are supplemented by more familiar dance sensibilities. I was relieved to find that despite being removed from the context of the operetta, this collection of songs still worked for me.
As with Albarn's other recent project, The Good The Bad And The Queen, this ambitious collation may sound unworkable in practice, but actually makes for a fascinating if off-kilter delight.
The mixture veers widely from the pure Cantonese pop of tracks such as `The Dragon King', to electronica `Monkey Bee, `Monkey's World', and more unusual offerings such as `Iron Rod' and `Whisper'. We occasionally see glimpses of the more recognizable in tracks like `O Mi To Fu', but, surprisingly, some of the most successful creations here are the less ambitious but musically sound stuff like `The White Skeleton Demon' or ` Disappearing Volcano'.
Ultimately Albarn's latest offering represents a brave and mainly successful attempt to fuse East and West by pushing the boundaries of music; not content with being the face and the driving force of on of the 90s most successful and musically accomplished pop bands, Damon seems determined to move into as many disparate musical areas as he has time for, and on this showing I am fascinated to see what he will come up with next.