REVIEW: The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows – Damon Albarn

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The 12th of November, Damon Albarn, the British singer-songwriter and producer, founder member of the band Blur, Gorillaz and The Good, The Bad & The Queen is dropping his new solo fatigue: The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows, a title inspired by a John Clare poem Love and Memory. A limited-edition vinyl format will accompany the digital one, the cassette and CD. Originally thought of as an incursion into the Iceland landscapes, it had to be rethought due to 2020’s covid 19’s pandemic. What came out is an interesting and introspective journey about loss, fragility and other inner themes with Albarn as a contemporary chanteur. 

From the beginning, the intro title track sets the tone of the entire oeuvre. Traces of outer sounds and spaces are recognizable; recalls of foreign lands. The Cormorant opens to the experimental character of the entire LP with contracted sounds and a strangely mellow atmosphere. The 3rd track Royal Morning Blue brings in some rhythm and movement into a dreamy atmosphere. A nice track, ending with piano lines; it gives us back a bit of the Albarn we are used to. Combustion follows as an unexpected experiment between orchestral and jazzy arrangements, delivering an instrumental interlude song: a reminder of the peculiar nature of this studio album initially thought as an orchestral work. 

Heartfelt piano lines arise just right after with Daft Wader: Albarn’s voice join them creating a sort of enchanted melody with a convergence of experimental sounds toward the end. The experimenting takes just a little break with Darkness to Light: a sad yet inspired slow jazzy pop ballad that allows once again to appreciate the characteristic tone of the ex Blur. Esja mirrors its name: a complex entangling of synthesized sounds leading to a hypnotic song of waves that flows softly into The Tower of Montevideo: a punctuated jazzy introvert ballad. 

Giraffe Trumpet Sea is the 9th track of this LP: a dissonant instrumental piece that merges into Polaris thus generating an interesting play crossed by anxiety and relief. In this song, the rhythm ascends gifting the listener with a little distraction. Particles ends this sort of audio narration that tried to mimic sounds of nature and feelings of a human being. Overall, it vaguely resembles the musicality of Jean Michel Jarre with unfortunately less originality and innovation, though a decent experimental trip worth the listening considering its different (from the usual Albarn works) nature.

For fans only.

Francesca Sacerdoti

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