Yes, it's Damon, but it's also opera. Chinese opera, at that. And opera's one of those musical genres that I just don't get. Not that I can't be swayed by some of the truly great arias, and I also have a small soft spot for the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, but generally being sung to unintelligibly in a foreign language for hours - well, I'd rather do algebra. No Aida or Don Giovanni for me, thanks.
Not that this isn't well done (it is) and the music is generally quite listenable. In short bursts. And skipping over those high-pitched squawky songs that the Chinese seem to love but give me a headache.
It's nice to see he can do it, and I promise I'd tell him it was a work of great musical expertise and passion if I should ever see him (but really I'd be much more likely to be stammering out short phrases based on his staggering output in other genres and trying to rip his clothes off). But really, I think this CD's only for the completists - if you love Damon that much (so no prizes for guessing who bought it) - or if you're turned on by Chinese opera. Not for me though.
VERDICT: TURN IT DOWN
As Mine says, this is an opera. It is actually described as a circus opera, although, as far as I can tell, there are no clowns or trapeze artists. If there ain't either, then it's not a circus as far as I'm concerned. The second noteworthy point she mentioned was this is the work of Damon Albarn. Now, anyone who knows me knows my love of all things Damon (although I'm not as inclined to the clothes-destroying histrionics of Mine, thankfully). And as she astutely points out, it's in our collection because I'm a bit of a completist when it comes to my favourites.
Did I happen to mention this is an opera? An ostensibly Chinese opera, based on a 16th century Chinese classic and the same story used as a basis for Monkey, the OTT 70s television series. Like Mine, I am not an opera fan, not in the slightest. In fact, I'm proud to say this is the only opera in our collection and this is only due to Albarn's involvement.
There are some great moments of joyous noisy mashing of East and West, such as I Love Buddha, Heavenly Peach Banquet and Monkey Bee but a lot of the album is ambient and doesn't have much relevance to the listener, particularly those completely unfamiliar with the Monkey story. Yeah, definitely for the completist.
VERDICT: TURN IT DOWN
For more information: http://www.monkeyjourneytothewest.com/