Damon Albarn, better known as the lead singer in the British bands Blur and Gorillaz, has undertaken a very different project in Dr Dee: An English Opera.
By melding Elizabethan instruments with the African kora, modern guitar and his own voice, Albarn attempts to produce eclectic sounds that evoke the mysterious world of John Dee, medical adviser to Queen Elizabeth I.
The first track, The Golden Dawn, begins with sounds of nature - a flowing river; birds chirping - to create a sense of serenity. Then comes an unexpected twist, a clash of bells, and suddenly the atmosphere is eerie and melancholic. It's a wonderful way to describe Dr Dee's fascination with nature and the supernatural.
The remaining songs maintain a mysterious aura, especially The Moon Exalted, which combines vocals, guitar and accordion-like sounds that send chills down the spine. But Cathedrals, featuring Albarn's soothing voice backed by recorders and lutes, arrives like a breath of fresh air.
This album will delight those who enjoy letting their imaginations explore different realms, as most of its songs are instrumental with just a few lyrics.
But it's best to first read the story of Dr Dee as an introduction to his abstract world.