Collaboration Planet of the Apes

Collaboration Planet of the Apes
Anyone who dismissed Gorillaz as Damon Albarn’s cartoon hip-hop vanity project with artist Jamie Hewlett should check out Monkey: Journey to the West. The duo’s latest effort extends far beyond the mixed media spectacle of Gorillaz, adapting Wu Cheng’en’s 16th century novel using Hewlett’s visual style and Albarn’s score. Described as a "circus opera,” the production directed by Chen Shi-Zheng is based on Mandarin folklore’s tale of a Monkey King’s epic journey to enlightenment. While the shows have been limited (a sequence was used during the Olympics), the soundtrack is universal in every sense. Compared to the bubblegum hip-pop of Gorillaz, Monkey’s score is a challenging listen, blending Asian delicacies with Albarn’s scope of pop music, making for a worldly, experimental and at times, an even accessible listen.