July 20, 2011

Harry Potter meets Damon Albarn !

I watched the last Harry Potter movie a few days ago, and walking out of the theatre, I can't help feeling a little melancholy about the "end" of an era. An era of Harry Potter fandom and kids growing up along the world of wizards, Hogwarts and the actors that play these wonderful characters.

Surprisingly, I was reminded by TracyJackAlbarn, a fellow Blur fan, that Damon Albarn actually met Harry Potter - or lets call him Daniel Radcliffe, during an interview in the Jonathan Ross Show on March 2007.

Quoted from the 2007 Friday Night with Jonathan Ross episode summary found hereDaniel Radcliffe, who has gone from boy wizard to horse fondler, returns to the show as does Damon Albarn with yet another new band, The Good, The Bad & The Queen. Has he finally formed a good one?

There's a footage, just a snippet of them on the show together, chatting together, I am not sure whether it was backstage on the show or on the actual Harry Potter set,  which appeared in another video interviewing Daniel Radcliffe about the movie.

Apparently, Daniel views Damon Albarn as one of his mentors and person he looks up to!

Watch below, Damon's part is at 0:48:

Anyone offer an opinion on where Damon and Daniel met in the video ? Is it on the Jonathan Ross show in March 2007, or was it on the Harry Potter movie set ?

And why is Daniel Radcliffe dressed up ? Did Damon actually go visit him on set ?

Do let us know on our FACEBOOK page (Click here!) Long live Potter! 

July 16, 2011

Damon Albarn making new album for Warp - July 2011

Damon Albarn's opera Doctor Dee has now reached the end of its run as part of the Manchester International Festival and has received almost universal acclaim and positive reviews. 

"I'm making an album for Warp," Damon reveals in The Guardian's latest article on Doctor Dee, his new opera . This is the only new thing that the article reveals, oh, and that Damon stumbled quite a lot around the stage during his opera....

Warp is a Sheffield-based record label usually renowned for techno. 

"I'm taking six young English producers with me and we'll make it in a week. Then I'm going on a six-
week holiday to dispel rumours I'm a workaholic." said Damon.

And my thoughts on this is exactly northernmonkey's, which goes like this:

A six weeks holiday should recharge the creative juices for getting started on a new Blur album!!!

Lastly, watch the recent short interview Damon Albarn did for BBC Two Culture Show on July 12th 2011 about his opera. Quite interesting. 

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July 6, 2011

Doctor Dee - Manchester International Festival 2011 - Review

It's time for a review! Since I have no chance of seeing Doctor Dee live, I will present to you the first proper review, by The Guardian, on Doctor Dee -  Damon Albarn's opera, which premiered last Friday night at the Manchester International Festival 2011.

 4/5 stars

It is perhaps as much a disservice to call the 16th century alchemist and astrologer John Dee a Renaissance man as it is to refer to Damon Albarn as the former frontman of Blur. Neither scratches the surface of their achievements.
Dee was an occultist, hermetic and spiritual advisor to Elizabeth I who appointed the Queen's coronation day through the alignment of the planets.
A world famous scholar who dabbled in the undefined area between science and sorcery, he was reputed to be the model for Marlowe's Dr Faustus and Shakespeare's Prospero. And by applying Euclidean principles to navigation, he laid the visionary blueprint for the British empire.
Now latter-day polymath Albarn has created an opera based on the life of this mysterious philosopher. The pairing seems irresistible: an inscrutable but undeniably beautiful meditation on Englishness inspired by the man who coined the term "Britannia" and written by a musician who made it cool.
Dr Dee is an erudite affair, inspired by the philosopher's exile to Manchester in the 1580s, where he founded the English speaking world's first public library. It's extraordinary to think that whereas Albarn has been bringing himself up to speed with concepts of hermeticism, Euclidian geometry and Rosicrucianism, his erstwhile Britpop rival Liam Gallagher has formed Beady Eye.
Damon Albarn performs on the preview night of the opera 'Dr Dee' at Manchester Palace Theatre. Photograph: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage
Even so, Dr Dee is by no means an opera in the conventional sense. Instead director Rufus Norris lays on a sumptuous array of scenes and tableaux that draw upon the lavish stage mechanics of an Elizabethan masque. If there's a parallel to be drawn it might be with Berlioz's similarly grandiose "dramatic legend" the Damnation of Faust.
You suspect that the main reason Albarn creates a sound-world combining kora, theorbo, and Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen is because he can. More contentious is his decision to cast himself as a kind of troubadour-narrator, as it slightly negates the dramatic function of Bertie Carvel's Dr Dee, whose role becomes largely mute.
Yet there is genuine dramatic frisson delivered by the ice-cold counter-tenor of Christopher Robson as Edward Kelley, the psychic or "scryer" who became Dee's ultimate undoing.
Dee commissioned Kelley to commune with the angels; the angels apparently suggested that Kelley be allowed to sleep with the Doctor's wife.
Albarn's opera can seem obscure and sometimes wilfully perverse. But it reaches to the heart of the tragedy of an overreaching intellect destroyed by a deal with a second-rate Mephistopheles. Dee was haunted by his shortcomings: "You know I cannot see, nor scry" he lamented.
Yet for Albarn, who ends the evening triumphantly aloft against a panorama of the cosmos, the scry's the limit.
Pretty good review, in fact it's EXCELLENT. Damon's reached a whole new level with his opera performing, and I can't wait for footage of it to surface, or perhaps there'll be a soundtrack album like Monkey Journey to the West. 
You must watch Damon Albarn talk about Doctor Dee in the video below. He discusses his opera (mistakenly named "Dr. John Dee" in The Guardian's website ! ) ahead of it's premier on Friday Night in Machester International Festival. 

Enjoy! And I would like to announce BlurBalls reached a GOOGLE PAGERANK of 3/10. What an achievement! I'm chuffed! All thanks to you guys who link back, tweet and support.

Stay Tuned and remember to subscribe and "LIKE" BlurBalls on Facebook, or email subscribe to receive the latest news on everything Blur, Gorillaz, Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon! 

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July 2, 2011

Dave Rowntree - "There are always plans for Blur" - July 2011

Beyond Britpop: Whatever happened to the class of '95?

Pulp are just the latest Britpop band to re-form. What happened to the other musicians who defined the Nineties? Alice Jones from The Independent meets the retired rock stars
Then: Drummer, Blur. Blur have released seven studio albums, including the Britpop-defining No 1 albums Parklife and The Great Escape which sold 2.15 million copies worldwide. Having effectively split up in 2003, they reunited in 2009 for a run of successful gigs, headlining Glastonbury and playing to 100,000 emotional fans over two nights in Hyde Park.
Defining Britpop Moment: Winning the 'Battle of Britpop', beating Oasis to No 1 in August 1995 with "Country House".
Now: Trainee Solicitor. Having worked as an animator for several years, setting up his own company, Nanomation, and producing two series of Empire Square, Rowntree enrolled at law school and is halfway through his training contract at Kingsley Napley, a London firm.
Lives: East London with his girlfriend, a music publisher. He is 47 years old.
'Around five years ago, I was having a mid-life crisis. I lay awake at night thinking, 'Haven't I wasted my life? Hasn't it all been rather trivial? Hitting things for a living, isn't that rather stupid?'.
Then I talked to a friend who was a lawyer. He said his grandfather had sent him to the Old Bailey, saying 'Go and sit there for two weeks and, at the end of it, you'll know if you like law or not'. So I did that and it was brilliant. Everything that my mid-life crisis was telling me I needed, I found in that courtroom.
The space between things with Blur was growing quite wide so I went to one of the leading legal aid criminal firms in east London and did a bit of work experience. I fell in love with it. It was everything I was looking for – genuine hands-on helping of people with serious crises. I went to law school, passed all my exams and in a year I'll be a qualified solicitor. Now I work five days a week. Crime is what I love but I'm unusual in that I quite like tax law, too.
Around the same time I started to get more involved in the Labour party. I'm a local activist and helped David Miliband on his leadership campaign, which was very exciting. I also stood for parliament in Westminster at the last election, though I had no hope at all of winning. It's all part of trying to bring some kind of meaning to my life, arranging it so I'm a giver rather than a taker. What stuck in my craw was the feeling that my life was selfish. I was turning into somebody that I despised.

The band wound down without my permission, because of Graham and Damon falling out. It wasn't being in the band that I hated. I still love doing that and I'm pretty sure that if I could still do it full time, that's what I would be doing. It's all speculative, because to be able to do it full time you have to be a bit younger.
At the time, it was very hard to gauge the scale of what was going on. First we were a tiny indie band and suddenly we were the mainstream, at number one. We became pop stars which wasn't in the plan. Some of us accommodated that better than others. At the height of our success, I used to fly the band around on tour in my plane. It was brilliant – proper rock-star behaviour. These days I share a plane with a few friends. It's an incredible luxury, really, my one nod to stardom.
Otherwise, I felt about a mile from being involved in any kind of movement, even Britpop. The idea that we were involved in a movement, especially one with such a terrible name, definitely wouldn't have appealed to us.
The Hyde Park reunion [in 2009] could have been a disaster. When Graham and Damon put their differences to one side we decided to go into the rehearsal studio and see if the old magic was there. It was clear immediately that it was. But we all had misgivings. I was very surprised at how quickly the first show sold out. It was really nice that people still felt that way about us.
We keep in touch with each other and there are always plans for Blur. But it's quite fragile. We're grown men now and we don't want to ruin anything. If we do anything else, it's got to be interesting. There has to be a good reason."


Interesting read, and in particular the part that caught my attention was the bolded red paragraph. At least that's nice to hear, good news for us fans! But we still don't know anything about their plans. 
Here's Justine Frischmann's part in the article. For those who don't know, Justine was the ex-girlfriend of Damon Albarn and frontwoman of Britpop band Elastica. Read below to know what's going on with her.

Then: Lead singer and guitarist, Elastica. Britpop's cool head girl who dated Brett Anderson and Damon Albarn. Elastica's eponymous first album entered the charts at No 1 in 1995, then the fastest-selling British debut in history. They split up in 2001.
Defining Britpop moment: Starring on an NME cover alongside Thom Yorke and Brett Anderson in 1994, before Elastica had released an album.
Now: Artist. A graduate of the Bartlett School of Architecture, Frischmann co-presented a BBC series called Dreamspaces. She also collaborated with her old flatmate MIA, co-writing songs on her first album Arular. Last year, Frischmann had her first solo exhibition at the Michelle O'Connor Gallery in San Francisco and this year showed her work at New York's Sloan Fine Art.
Lives: North Bay, San Francisco with her husband, a climate scientist and professor at the University of California-Davis. She is 41 years old.
'Music never felt like a sustainable career to me in the emotional and physical sense. I was never that comfortable in the spotlight. I'm actually a pretty quiet kind of person who needs a lot of peace, calm and stability around me.
When I think of Britpop, I remember how exciting it was to see friends breaking through in such a short time. At first the media's attempts to pigeonhole us all together seemed forced. But the concept of 'Britpop' soon gained momentum and it became clear that it had become an entity in its own right. That redefinition of English music and identity felt important at a time when so much of the popular culture seemed to be coming from America. There was a desire to make work that celebrated where we were living, using our own imagery, vernacular and humour. There was also a softening of boundaries during that era – in a way, Damon working with Phil Daniels had some parallels with Tony Blair representing the Labour party... a reappropriation of traditionally working-class iconography by middle-class intelligentsia.

I left the UK in 2005 to study Fine Art at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. I was ready for a total change, I wanted to leave the UK and go back to school. When we were touring I loved the land in the American West and felt drawn to come back. Naropa is the only Buddhist university in the US. I thought it would be interesting to look at the creative process from a contemplative point of view.
I have a parent who is a Holocaust survivor and the Holocaust is something that, I think, has driven me all of my life. My love of Modern design and aesthetics also comes from my parents, who were influenced by the Modern movement, partly, I believe, because we had lost our family history on both sides.
The only Elastica member with whom I'm in touch is Donna. Last time we spoke she was working as a music therapist. Brett [Anderson] is still a good friend. In terms of the music scene today, I still think that Maya's work [MIA] is interesting. But I'm the wrong person to ask. I live in rural northern California where there are coyotes wandering in the streets. And I don't own a TV."