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Damon Albarn - Dr Dee album reviews

Posted: 22 Apr 2012, 23:04
by Veikko
Professional reviews, in alphabetical order by publication:
  • When Dr Dee shines, though, it blinds. (B+)
    A.V. Club

    It's a mish-mash of disparate parts that makes for an uncomfortable listen. (2/5)
    The Arts Desk

    The way the spirit of each style interlocks is brilliant, and he continues to pull memorable melodies out of his (Elizabethan) hat.

    The soundtrack strives for a quirky, melancholy resonance befitting its tragic subject, but too often it comes off as gimmicky and ponderous. (1/4)
    Chicago Tribune

    Whereas the staged opera was able to unify these disparate stylistic elements the recording isn't quite so successful. (3/5)

    As a creative spark to a proper solo LP, this would make an excellent launch point. (3/5)
    Consequence of Sound

    As a listening experience, 'Dr Dee' is a series of moments; it is tricky to evaluate as a whole.

    [...] yet another musical genre ticked off his list with studious accomplishment and loving care. (7/10)
    Drowned In Sound

    Performed on a miscellany of authentically Elizabethan instruments, it's infused with a sublime beauty and originality. (4/5)

    Like Dee's alchemical investigations, the album is a curious experiment. (3/5)
    Financial Times

    The lack of the visual drama that would be seen onstage is a big problem. (2/5)
    The Globe and Mail

    There's some brave music, and reminders of Albarn's gift for melody. (4/5)
    The Guardian

    An intriguing subject, but Dr Dee's biggest reveal is the feeling we haven't scratched the surface of Damon Albarn, The Artist, just yet. (3/5)
    Herald Sun

    Damon Albarn's latest project is less satisfying than his earlier internationalist crossovers. (3/5)
    The Independent

    Extracting a narrative from these delicate sounds can feel like more trouble than they're worth. (2/4)
    Los Angeles Times

    A classy and durable listen. (4/5)

    Dr Dee, like everything Albarn produces, is an extremely interesting listen. (3.5/5)

    The Blur man's solo album-cum-operatta has its moments, but in the end, isn't medieval life rubbish? (5/10)

    This record isn't anywhere near as dense with magick as you might have expected. (3/5)
    The Observer

    This is Albarn's most indulgent and glaring failure to date. (4.2/10)
    Paste Magazine

    In the end, the Dr Dee soundtrack is a deeply felt but difficult to love entry into Albarn's entirely singular discography. (6.7/10)

    The overarching flaw of Dr Dee is actually from Albarn’s distinctive vocals. While incredibly malleable and multifaceted, they just don’t pair with gloomy bells and plucking violins. (6.5/10)
    Prefix Magazine

    Even utterly dedicated Albarn fans will be hard-pushed to play it more than twice. (2/5)
    Q Magazine

    An ambitious and unexpected move, sure, but the mix of period strings, vocal choruses and West African percussion (plus Albarn's gloomy score) makes for a dense term paper. (2.5/5)
    Rolling Stone

    Dr Dee adds another innovative, imaginative string to Albarn's bow. (4/5)
    The Scotsman

    An ambitious, flawed project, let down by its scope and vision rather than its execution. (2/5)
    The Skinny

    These delicately woven ballads rival anything in the Blur or Gorillaz canon. (4/5)
    The Times

    The most compelling record that Albarn has made since Blur's 13. (8/10)
    Uncut (scan by Gorillaz-Unofficial)

    What's next? A grime libretto? A death metal symphony? (3/5)
    Virgin Media
Positive: 10 (34%)
Mixed: 13 (45%)
Negative: 6 (21%)

Re: Damon Albarn - Dr Dee album reviews

Posted: 28 Apr 2012, 14:23
by Veikko
So, what are your opinions of the album? My first thoughts are here:

As a fan of The Good, The Bad & The Queen, the album's melancholy mood catched me almost right away. This album contains some of the most beautiful ("Apple Carts") and - in contrast - appalling ("Watching The Fire...") music Damon has ever written. The adventurous and minimalism style of Ravenous soundtrack comes instantly to my mind as a comparison - and maybe bits of Monkey: Journey To The West album. If you like them, you'll like Dr Dee.

While there is not much wrong musically, my main problem with the album is that many interesting sounding tracks end their life too suddenly, while the monotomic tracks ("The Golden Dawn", "Preparation") go on for too long, leaving you nothing but bored and confused. Also, the 28-secs long interlude to "Cathedrals" is pitiful short compared to the original one broadcast on Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone. The original interlude would have made an amazing intro to this beautiful song which in my opinion is an absolute highlight of the record (yep, it even beats the final serenade "The Dancing King"). Also, I don't think that the multi-layered vocals technique on "Apple Carts" and "O Spirit, Animate Us" was a good idea, as it sounds a bit over-done and cliche to the otherwise original record.

As with Damon's previous soundtrack efforts, Dr Dee is certainly not for everyone, and many fans will be left dissapointed of the album as a whole. It's a bit shame Parlophone is marketing the album as a "Damon Albarn album" rather than the soundtrack to the opera. Maybe an EP of 5-6 stand-out tracks would have been an ideal release for the mass market?