Damon Albarn; The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows.

Murmurings of The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows have rumbled about in the background for quite some while already, Damon Albarn having orchestrated several London dates associated with the title in 2020, and then again in 2021. None have as yet taken place for reasons self-explanatory, aside from a subdued live ‘stream’ last year and a similarly melancholy showing on Live At Worthy Farm this, although the long-awaited UK première – at the Barbican Hall – is now slated for February 2022. So fingers crossed for that one…

Yet whether or not these shows take place – and it’s been a bit tricky keeping up with their rescheduling already, it’s not all doom, gloom and the like. For that bit more reflection afforded Albarn the opportunity to flesh out what was ostensibly meant to be an orchestral suite, inspired by the beguiling landscapes of Iceland, into something that bit more complete. And so we have what looks to be the follow-up solo effort to Everyday Robots, some seven years on.

Now signed to Transgressive Records, its title track – which featured on both aforementioned streams – is starkly orchestrated, built about susurrating violins and trademarkedly finger-picked acoustic, yet still widescreen in scope. Lyrically, though, it’s audibly locked not so much in “the beautiful past” as the bleak present, tallying with Albarn’s asseveration that he’s “been on [his] own dark journey while making this record”. In that unmistakable baritone, he bemoans: “Thе year has its winter, as well as its May/ Thе sweetest leave us, and the fairest decay” in what can only be read in light of the last year-plus. Here’s hoping The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows isn’t solely a memento of these dismal months, but rather one so potent, there will be ample desire to return to it once they’ve duly passed.

The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows is available from November 12th via Transgressive Records, while Damon Albarn plays the Barbican Hall on 21st and 22nd February, 2022.