Damon Albarn finds the beauty in darkness on new single ‘Royal Morning Blue’

The track is somewhat evocative of Albarn’s early work in Gorillaz

Damon Albarn has shared another taste of his forthcoming second solo album, ‘The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows’, this time in the form of radiant new single ‘Royal Morning Blue’.

The track is somewhat evocative of Albarn’s early work in Gorillaz, with an effervescent beat driving a soundscape that ebbs and flows between contrasting shades of light and dark. Though still heady and melancholic, ‘Royal Morning Blue’ is the bounciest track from the new album thus far, hinting at a tonal palate more expansive than its monochromatic cover art implies.

Have a listen to ‘Royal Morning Blue’ below:

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It was noted in a press release that Albarn wrote and recorded ‘Royal Morning Blue’ during a stint in Iceland, with the Blur and Gorillaz frontman gleaning inspiration from his wintry oceanside surrounding. The track was “directly inspired by the view from Albarn’s position at the piano looking out over the sea, [and] captures the wonder of rain turning into snow before his eyes”.

Albarn himself added: “That’s why the song opens with ‘Rain turning into snow,’ because it’s that moment, that feeling. In all the darkness that we have experienced, that was such a beautiful, positive thing.”

A dazzling live rendition of ‘Royal Morning Blue’ was released alongside the single last night, (September 22), with Albarn performing it in-studio as part of a nine-piece band. Take a look at the video for that, directed by Toby L​​​, below:

‘Royal Morning Blue’ comes as the fourth track to be shared from ‘The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows’, following the title track, ‘Polaris’ and ‘Particles’ – all three of which also received performance videos along with their releases.

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The full album is due to land on November 12 via Transgressive, marking his first release on the label after signing to it in June.

Speaking to NME ahead of the album’s release, Albarn expounded on how it was conceptualised as a way to lift him out of the “storms” of the outside world and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“I just felt like the beginning of this year was so grim and I had to do something to lift me out of those, I wouldn’t call doldrums, but storms – those terrible north wind storms that you get down by the sea in Devon sometimes,” he explained.

“They come down off the Atlantic from Greenland, they spin round, and they’re brutal. I got together with a couple of my old friends who I’ve been making music with for a long time – [former Verve guitarist] Simon Tong and Mike Smith – and just tried to nail everything into some kind of cohesive meditation about particles, now and the future.”

Albarn performed a “spectral, minimalist showcase” of his new album at the End Of The Road festival earlier this month, with NME reviewer Jordan Bassett praising his set for “reaffirm[ing] just how restlessly innovative he’s been since the heady days of Britpop”.

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