The first time I heard mention of an Alan Moore/Gorillaz Opera/etta taking on the life of famed magician/occultist John Dee, was in the Mustard Magazine. I ran a piece, but was told by Alan that it wasn't quite ready for primetime yet. Still, it got picked up by the NME and others… and then nothing.
Last week at the London Book Fair I talked to Tony Bennett at Knockabout Comics, and the last he'd heard was that the project was in limbo, some kind of management issue.
Today however, in the NYMag, an interview with the Gorillaz to promote their album Plastic Beach and other projects, Damon Albarn brings up the operetta.
Since it takes Jamie four years to do the art, have you started work on your next project yet?
D.A.: I have. I've moved onto another opera. An opera opera this time.
The one you're writing with Alan Moore — what can you tell us about it?
D.A.: It's based on the life of John Dee, who was a very influential force in Elizabethan Europe, especially England. He was responsible for creating the concept of the British Empire. So he affects all our lives in one way or another. He was an alchemist … It's about his life.
Do you know what the music will sound like?
D.A.: No, not really. This will be the first time I've stopped writing for six months; I've just been reading about Hermetic magic and catalysts and philosophy, which is what all of his stuff is based on — Euclid and Pythagoras and all of that stuff. It's a lot. And it's been brilliant. I've got an idea of how it's going to sound.
So whatever the management issue, looks like the creatives are storming ahead with it. And that "man who created the concept of the British Empire" – that's very much a Moore phrase that Damon is quoting,
Moore has had a long relationship with this man, trusted by Queen Elizabeth and who spent much of his career trying to contact angels. John Dee has appeared in a number of Moore's works, from his CDs, mentions in From Hell, and appearances in Promethea but he last appeared in a Moore work in the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, using the fictional Shakespeare character Propspero which some state was based on Dee. The pentangle designs of Dee also adorn the packaging and promotional metrials for the Mindscape Of Alan Moore documentary.
It's still not really ready for primetime though. This may take some time.
Visual, yes I know that's Simpsons not Gorillaz. Shhh.