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Monkey: Journey to the West Import
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The latest creative endeavor of erstwhile Blur frontman Damon Albarn is Monkey: Journey to the West. Again teamed with his partner in Gorillaz, Jamie Hewlett, this is the soundtrack to the theatrical production of the same name, which is something of a Cirque du Soleil-like presentation of choreography and acrobatics. The fifty minute disc works powerfully on its own, moving with utter confidence from rock propulsion to electronics, and all woven through with Chinese instrumentation, occasional vocals and the utilization of the pentatonic scale. The folkish intimacy of "The Living Sea" sits comfortably alongside the cinematic marches of ""the Dragon King." While the show this accompanies is a cavalcade of physical prowess and dazzle, the passage through this disc is wonderfully cerebral. East meets west, in the center of your brain. --David Greenberger
Top Customer Reviews
Apparently the accompanying music to a Chinese musical about a magical monkey, much of the 22 very brief tracks (the album clocks in at about 50 minutes) are interludes which I guess would make more sense if one saw the musical. Having said that, the music is magical and oriental/electronic sounding, and the CD flies past before you realize it.
Standouts include "Monkey's world" with electronic swirls a few spoken works interspersed with synth dance sounds, "The living sea" with a ghostly whistle, delicate guitars and angelic female vocals, "Heavenly peach banquet" with chiming mandolins and female vocals, the dark atmospheric almost hymnal "Whisper" with whispered vocals, "Sandy the river demon" acoustic with male spoken vocals, the beautiful instrumental "March of the volunteers", the horn sprinkled instrumental "The white skeleton demon", the waltz-like instrumental "I love Buddha", and the majestic "March of the iron army" with choir-like vocals.
I've enjoyed every bit of Damon Albarn's musical odyssey, from Blur, through Gorillaz, to The Good, the Bad and the Queen. This is simply beautiful!!
I've been listening to the whole album from start to finish and it is definitely something that adds new quality to my music collection, there isn't anything quite like it that I have heard. It is Eastern, it is opera, it is also pop and rather Westernized... it's basically the perfect sound for the story of Monkey to be translated into the modern world.
The artwork with the disc is also very nice. I'd say anyone who has been tentative about picking this up should just go for it. No matter what your musical background or taste you'll likely find a way to connect with it, and you'll likely be pleasantly surprised by a lot of this peculiar and brilliant album.
However, I still really can't stand "Confessions of a Pig". It sounds like Zhu Bajie (Pigsy) just grunts in beat. At least that's what it sounds like, I can't make out any words. On the flip side, I really like "Monkey Bee". The music resembles "Clint Eastwood" in the middle and the Sun Wu Kong's (Monkey's) words are funny, if a bit repetitive. (He calls Princess Iron Fan cheap for not "lending" him the fan.)
I applaud Damon Albarn for taking this on. Different culture and everything and he managed to get it mostly right. The general feeling of the music fits the general theme for that part of the story really well. However, I'm not sure everyone would like the cd. Some people will think it's a cacophony of noise while others would think it's the greatest thing ever written. For example, I would not have my parents listen to it even if they like the story too. I suppose if you're into into the Gorillaz with some Asian thrown in then it wouldn't be a bad cd to get.
*"Confessions of a Pig," which is a near-techno operatic lament that perfectly captures the tragedy of Pigsy's life (judging from the tone--can't speak to the lyrics as I do not speak Chinese).
*"Heavenly Peach Banquet," an incredibly engaging piece that has me mouthing faux-chinese lyrics along with it.
*"Monkey Bee," for which I can only suggest a search of Youtube or Veoh for a copy of the video--it's Beijing Opera and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets Gorillaz (both visually and musically)
*"Disappearing Volcano," a denouement that manages to blast the listener with the perfect marriage of classical operatic themes and Chinese opera.
Grab a copy of the book "Journey to the West" and this album. The music will NOT get old even while reading all four volumes!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
i am not sure what i was expecting, but this was not it...Published 21 months ago by Elizabeth H. Gamburd
Great album, another wonderland of not oft together western and Chinese instruments and things that aren't instruments such as: car horns and saw blades. Amazing audio styling.Published 21 months ago by J. P. Milligan
This is a fun album, A Chinese opera, written by a Brit, crazy right? Don't be turned off by the opera bit, this isn't stuffy or pretentious. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Leslie Anderson
Some of the songs are not so listenable outside of the context of the show, but there are enough must-have gems to make this release well worth the purchase.Published on July 27, 2014 by Toadguy