Damon Albarn chose his album title “years ago”. Albarn has released his latest solo album, ‘The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows’ – the follow-up to 2014’s ‘Everyday Robots’ – and explained he had singled out a line from poet John Clare’s ‘Love And Memory’ some time ago with the intention of using it in a musical project one day.
He told The Sun newspaper: “Clare was a working-class poet, an interesting guy and really ahead of his time. He even checked into a wellbeing clinic, 19th Century-style.
“When I was much younger, my mum gave me an anthology because he was from Essex and we had spent a lot of time there. I’ve had the book for ages and I’m a dipper into poetry.
“I underlined the ‘nearer the fountain’ line years ago because I thought it would be a wonderful springboard for something.”
And Damon admitted the rest of the poem “came into focus” when he began work on the record in his barn studio in Devon.
He added: “I wanted the whole record to have a strong poetic feel. Its mood demands it.”
But Albarn admitted the stone building he uses as a makeshift video made him and his collaborators, including former The Verve guitarist Simon Tong and composer and arranger Mike Smith, ill because of the conditions.
He said: “I’m having it renovated in the next year. It’s very rough-and-ready, extremely cold, damp and very dusty.
“We all got chest complaints and some days the instruments didn’t work. I had a guy who was constantly having to drive down and fix my collection of old synthesisers. They’re a labour of love, like old cars.
“The one I use most on this record is an Elka, a classic Seventies synth that would have been used by people like Emerson, Lake & Palmer. It’s huge — huge. Weighs a ton!”
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