Journey To The West
Released: Aug 2008
Packed with kung fu, contortion and wicked costumes (courtesy of Gorillaz illustrator Jamie Hewlett), Damon Albarn and Chen Shi-Zheng's staging of an ancient Chinese tale has brought a whole new generation into opera houses. The story concerns a monkey on a quest for spiritual redemption, but the score flaunts traditional opera -- one minute you hear Philip Glass, the next C-pop and Chinese opera, all agitated by electronics and smoothed over with rock guitar. It makes for exhilarating if not always easy listening, and probably fares best in tandem with the spectacle it's meant to accompany.