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Dr Dee CD

4.2 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (7 May 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Parlophone
  • ASIN: B00630HJBY
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,380 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

Product Description

Dr Dee, a new studio album by Damon Albarn, will be released by Parlophone Records on 7th May 2012.

Dr Dee is 18 tracks of songs and music inspired by the life of John Dee, mathematician, polymath and advisor to Elizabeth I. Described by Albarn as `strange pastoral folk', Dr Dee is a fitting companion to the end of another Elizabethan age. The album combines Albarn's voice with early English choral and instrumentation alongside modern, West African and Renaissance sounds.

Dr Dee was recorded late last year in Albarn's West London studio and also in Salford with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. The album was mixed by Valgeir Sigursson in Reykjavik.

BBC Review

It’s rare that album research entails digging into the life and times of a 16th-century Elizabethan, but such are the life and times of one Damon Albarn. Second-guessing this man is pointless, given his jumping from cartoon funksters (Gorillaz) to African fusion (Mali Music), and from ransacking dub/jazz/rock/soul infections (The Good, the Bad and the Queen, Rocket Juice & the Moon) to stage adaptations of 16th-century Chinese novels (Monkey: Journey to the West).

The Blur singer’s muse resembles an uncontrollable minx, following any interesting scent, never mind the logistics and latitude. A concept album about (says Wikipedia) “an English mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, imperialist and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I... devoted to studying alchemy, divination and Hermetic philosophy”? Sure. It beats sparring with Suede or Oasis, or another day with the Pro-Tools manual.

John Dee liked to take risks too – the good doctor straddled the worlds of science and magic just as they were becoming distinguishable, or as Albarn puts it: “He walked a very fine line between the dark arts and acceptable practice.” So you can see the attraction. But Dr Dee the album – which charts Dee’s progress from brilliant beginnings to outcast poverty and ruin – doesn’t straddle 15 genres as usual; probably just three or four.

Albarn describes the record as “strange pastoral folk” and Blur ballad lovers will thrill to several resembling the likes of 13’s No Distance Left to Run, such as Apple Carts, The Marvelous Dream and Saturn (the last recalling, of all Brit-mavericks, Peter Hammill). However, Temptation Comes in the Afternoon is closer to Klaus Nomi’s madcap opera and, some unkind souls might suggest, The Black Adder (perhaps this should have been released on Ruff Trade).

Of the more obvious genre-straddling tracks (there are 18 in all, since this is the soundtrack to a stage play), Oh Spirit Animate Us straddles pastoral folk and early choral, The Golden Dawn is cinematic like Peter Greenaway, Coronation mixes early choral with samples and Preparation’s thrumming drum pattern is more Mali than Hampton Court.

Albarn has done his research but this is no dry slice of worthy academia; the way the spirit of each style interlocks is brilliant, and he continues to pull memorable melodies out of his (Elizabethan) hat. How Albarn has reached this point from There’s No Other Way, without the use of a time machine, is astounding, and an alchemic feat that John Dee would undoubtedly have approved of.

--Martin Aston

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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.
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This is a completely different approach to music from Damon Albarn. This is not pop or rock, but more like Elizabethan madrigal. It's a rather mystical record harking back to the spirit of old England and the days of magick, mystery, and spirits in the water. The production is excellent and the songs feature an interesting selection of musical instruments and voice. The one issue I do have with this is Damon's voice. At times it's plaintive and beautiful, but I would say this music requires a clearer, purer voice than he has. It's a fairly solid performance, but at times it just does not fit the mood or atmosphere being created. Having said that, this is a wonderful set of well-crafted and delicate songs. I wonder what younger listeners will make of it, particularly if they are expecting pop! This is a special and unusual record and Damon is to be congratulated for having the spirit and adventurousness in putting this together. I gather this music will support a stage production and, if that is the case, then I'd love to see it. This music would be a wonderful experience live. Interesting, different, not too challenging, atmospheric, beautiful and absorbing. How many albums released these day can deliver that in one sitting? Buyers will be taking a chance buying this album, but it's a chance well worth taking. Highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
In a way a natural successor to 2007's, The Good, The Bad and The Queen, in fact this feels like its ancestor. This is a largely acoustic, and in many places orchestral, suite of wonderful tunes and songs. The preview track, Apple Carts- until recently available free on Amazon- is a one of the standout, stand alone songs, but this a piece designed to be listened to in its entirety and if you can bring yourself to commit to the hour or so required you will be rewarded in spades. There are choral pieces, apparent samples lifted from ancient records and even more ancient musical instruments at times and then suddenly on Preparation and 9 Point Star there are what appear to be African drums. Although rooted in the Elizabethan era of the Doctor of the title there are a number of tunes that could have been included on The Good, The Bad, minus the thumping bass lines of course(not that they were at all unwelcome on that wonderful album).
Damon's beautifully melancholic voice is the cement of this album, of course, but the voices on display here are many, varied and at all times wonderful.
I love this recording, it's fascinating and different. This is music to immerse yourself in. I'm writing this review during my first listen but I already know this is going to be one I will return to again and again.
Edit, November 2015. I'm still listening to this wonderful album on a frequent basis. It's been added to the select few that I keep digging out year after year. A classic.
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Format: Audio CD
I bought this yesterday in store as I loved Albarns work, his stuff with blur was amazing as was his stuff with Gorillaz, the Good the Bad and the Queen was also a great project, knowing he had just bought out everyday robots I decided to buy this as it was cheap and see what his solo albums sounded like. It was not clear from the packaging that this was an opera, so I was disappointed when I found out it was.

However I do not know a vast amount about opera as it is my least favourite kind of music, and Damans voice in the album is great with some soft melodic tunes, only occasionally going into the high pitched cliche opera.

So although it should be much clearer as to what this is, I didn't dislike it as much as I expected I would.
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A very interesting record from Damon Albarn, this. It's got a gothic greyness throughout, as if it had been produced from beyond the grave by Havergal Brian. Never during listening to Plastic Beach did I think that Albarn also had stuff like this running through his mind: neolithic mounds in Wiltshire, esoteric 19th Century magical practices, and lutes.

Song-wise, this as you'd probably expect is a mixed bag. The choral tracks are very well done indeed - avoiding any kind of neo-classical vibe while also managing not to be cheesy. Some of the record is just plain odd, out of all this darkness and John Webster ambience appears The Marvellous Dream, which is just voice and electric guitar chords. And some killer lyrics: "The looters of your heart/ will prove that you are not quite dead".

Dr Dee is all brilliantly arranged and recorded, and if it catches you in the right mood, you'll be floored by it. And all the more remarkable for appearing at a time in the artist's career when you'd expect him to be prancing around to decades old hits for the fans. Who knows, that's probably on the cards too.

As an Oasis fan of 19 years standing, it pains me to say this, right, but Damon Albarn is a ****ing genius.
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