A new opera, showing in Manchester: Monkey: Journey to the West–a tumbling, cross-genre, French-German-produced circus show-cum-quest caper designed by Tank Girl creator Jamie Hewlett (also a member of Gorillaz) and scored by Damon Albarn (of Gorillaz, Blur and The Good, The Bad & The Queen).

Money quotes from the review:

* “cannibalism, seductive spider-women, and Shaolin sword-fighting on unicycles”

* “Imagine The Lord Of The Rings being done by the Chinese State Circus in the style of House Of Flying Daggers, and you are some way towards understanding the appeal of Monkey. Entire segments are animated on giant screens, in Jamie Hewlett’s unmistakable style.”

* “At its most Western, the music can sound a little like a Gwen Stefani pop single (during the Heavenly Peach Banquet especially). Fairground themes abound, electronic bits spar with atonal bongs, and the singing is exquisite. Albarn and the artist Gavin Turk have even made a new instrument, the Klaxophone, which reproduces the sound of car horns in Chinese cities, especially for Monkey. You can hear Damon’s distinct melodic sense and favourite chord progressions throughout, yet the score remains overwhelmingly pentatonic and Eastern, and pretty much pastiche-free…..One of the biggest revelations is the chanting, droning, buzzing spell that Tripitaka uses to subdue Monkey when he gets out of hand, an experimental flourish based on cicada-song.”

I want this released as an album. Right The Hell NOW.

5 Replies to “Monkey”

  1. I caught some of this on the Culture Show on BBC2 last week. I did look pretty incredible and I’m just hoping it comes to London at some point.

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