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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Dr Dee
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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.
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on 20 May 2017
mad as a box of frogs and deep as the abyss to the otherworld - goodness knows what was going on for Albarn but he's on a very interesting current with this. Those of us who grew up with this bizarre combo of working class estates and high magic appreciate it enough to get past some of the annoying fiddle-de-di bits. It's a bit like the local pub decided to do an 'Elizabethan' night for reason's entirely of their own, and threw in a wicker man out of sheer audacity.
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on 18 June 2017
OK in parts, but not really to my taste.
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VINE VOICEon 10 May 2012
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 March 2015
Technically, I guess you could say that 'Dr Dee' is actually Damon Albarn's first studio album, but, as it's also a soundtrack, I guess it doesn't count.. It was released in 2012, and all the tracks were written and composed by the versatile Damon, of whom I regard as something of a musical genius. The music on this record is very different to that of his work with Blur and Gorillaz, as well as his outstanding solo album Everyday Robots. This is a classical folk album, and very operatic.

Based on the life and of work of John Dee, Elizabeth I.'s medical and scientific advisor, 'Dr Dee' the album of the musical is just another showcase of the extremely talented Mr. Albarn, a man who can really sing and has the ability to pen such awesome and catchy melodies.

I don't like opera music generally, and admittedly, there are bits and pieces on this album which really aren't my thing, especially the male and female opera vocals on here, which just don't appeal to me at all. I am giving this one a four star rating for Damon's bits, which I find most appealing as I just love this man's voice. I also don't mind something 'different', and when it's good, it's very good, experimental, melodic and really quite beautiful. Have a listen first, because if you are planning on buying this album after enjoying Damon's excellent 'Everyday Robots', you might be disappointed. Personally, I think most of 'Dr Dee' is very good indeed, with the most beautifully crafted songs.
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on 13 May 2012
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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on 12 July 2012
If you're expecting to hear a continuation of Blur or Gorillaz think again. If you are looking for instant gratification you will not find it here. However, delve deeper and you will discover a magnificent curve ball, a folk opera that is arcane, melancholy and exceptionally well written. You can sense the wistful gaze into the past right through the album. It is magnificently atmospheric. Respect is mandatory. Damon Albarn is a musical genius.
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on 12 May 2014
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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on 14 May 2012
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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on 17 August 2012
Who would have thought it could have got better than Gorillaz? Well it did... has... - via opera! Dr Dee... "animatum". Who needs Bowie. I am living at a time of genius... revised... revisited... returned... animatum.
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