Damon Albarn comforts fans with YouTube gig at Boiler Room online
On the day he was due to start a sold-out 15-date European tour, the restlessly innovative and incomparable auteur Damon Albarn performed an isolation broadcast of a selection of music from his latest project Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows live on Boiler Room’s YouTube channel.
The title is taken from a poem by the 19th-century working-class nature poet John Clare, called Love and Memory. Albarn feels its uplifting message is appropriate for the times and uses beautiful lines from it as lyrics. This project is also inspired by the landscape of Iceland, to which Albarn has been a frequent visitor for almost three decades, finding musical inspiration in its unique nature and landscapes.
The tour would have featured conductor André de Ridder and an ensemble of 14 musicians and four singers. The selection is an unfinished taster and was performed by Albarn alone with materials from workshops which were interrupted by the global lockdown. Broadcasting from his home studio, The Barn, this is Albarn’s first live performance this year.
The soothing wash of melody included horns, strings, percussion, guitar and ambient sounds, as well as Albarn at the piano, which created dense, lush soundscapes. The image of Albarn was transposed with images of the Icelandic landscape – beaches, sunsets, birds – to create a soothing, meditative effect. Albarn’s fragile, soothing voice sings excerpts from Clare’s poem over the top of this piece of sound art.
This is not stadium music and yet the performance has already been viewed by over 78,000 people, more than a stadium full. It has also raised nearly $30,000 for the Global Food Banking Fund. A balm for the soul, and well needed right now.
Photo: Nathan Prince
For further information and future events visit Damon Albarn’s website here.
Watch Albarn’s performance of Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows here: