The inspiration behind Damon Albarn’s upcoming solo album, The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows, started when he was just a child.
Speaking with Rolling Stone, the British musician, who is gearing up for the release of the effort on November 12, detailed his fascination with Iceland, admitting that it was childhood dreams, where he levitated over black sand, only to discover that the location was real during a National Geographic TV special. “I realized that might have been the place I was dreaming of,” he told the outlet. “And so I went there and fell in love with the place.”
Inspired by the country's natural landscape, the project saw Albarn invite 15 musicians to help him write the record at his house in Iceland at the top of the pandemic. “Everything is incredibly vibrant up there because it’s so north and so light,” he said of the atmosphere. “There are extremes of light and temperature and wind velocity. There are some points in the year where the panes of glass in the front of my house concave and convect with the movement of the wind. It’s like [the] whole of the outside world is going through some sort of weird vortex. It’s a very extreme place, and that’s what we were tapping into.”
Albarn eventually returned to his other home in Devon, England and planned continuous work on the record. However, the project was eventually stalled for months until he took to Devon studio with Simon Tong, his bandmate in the Good, the Bad & the Queen, as well as Mike Smith, a longtime touring member from Blur and Gorillaz, in January 2021. They completed the sessions in just a matter of weeks. “It’s all based on the mood that I established in Iceland,” Albarn said. “It has orchestral rehearsal tapes running through the whole thing.”