Damon Albarn (former front man of UK band Blur) is famous for his contribution to the Brit Pop movement in the 1990s. Although many of their tracks are nearly 15 years old, their music continues to be a firm favorite and dance floor-filler in any indie nightclub worth its salt. Albarn, however, is not a man to rest on his laurels. He has had his fingers in many pies since a supposed messy split with Blur: charity work; a number of notable collaborations; not-so-great film roles; and, most famously, the joint creation of the crew of crazy cartoon characters Murdoc, 2D, Russel, and Noodle, better known as the animated band Gorillaz. His latest venture is the production of the BBC theme music for the broadcast of the Beijing Olympic Games.
This new project came off the back of his and fellow Gorillaz collaborator Jamie Hewlett’s production of Monkey: Journey to the West. Albarn was responsible for the lyrics and Hewlett the visuals of this “circus opera,” which was written and directed by Chen Shi-Zheng.
This 400-year-old Chinese tale is transformed into a feat of technological excellence fit for a 21st-century audience as it presents a plethora of contrasts: old and new, sight and sound, East and West. It mixes the ancient arts of acrobatics, singing, and dancing with Gorillaz-style animation and mind-blowing video projection. To match the quality of Hewlett’s design, Albarn combined traditional Chinese instruments with modern ones to produce a unique sound.
In addition to the backlog of albums by Blur and Gorillaz available for sale on the Internet, you can enjoy free clips of the making of Monkey: Journey to the West on YouTube.