Monday, June 7, 2010

"Monkey: Journey to the West," Modern Chinese Opera Adaptation

The 16th Century Chinese novel Journey to the West I don't suppose is read much in translation. I've never read it anyway. A few years ago actor-director Chen Shi-Zheng collaborated with Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, English musician and English artist, respectively, on a stage piece, a modern Chinese operatic adaption, if you will, of the story. Monkey: Journey to the West (XL 388) is the recording of the production, released in 2008.

The music is of a syncretist cast. There are electro-acoustic elements, a sort of electronica, orchestral passages of interest, rock-pop-ish elements and some traditional Chinese influences, not to mention a bit of minimalism here and there.

When I first put this one on (without first seeing what it was) I was puzzled and intrigued. I still am. It's decidedly different, and rather good at being different to boot.

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