Monkey: Journey to the West is a wildly inventive "circus opera" based on a 16th-century Chinese novel.
Monkey: Journey to the West is the result of a collaboration between musician Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett, the creative minds behind the multimedia band Gorillaz. Conceived and created by the Chinese actor and director Chen Shi-zheng, Monkey is stage adaptation of a 16th-century Chinese novel. It tells the story of a monkey born from a stone, seeking immortality. The stage version features imaginative set design, intense acrobatics and a libretto sung in Mandarin.
The accompanying soundtrack is based upon, but not an exact recording of, what some have called a "circus opera." It features traditional Chinese instrumentation and harmonies, but also uses many of the same markings of an Albarn album: drum loops, post-punk synths and explosive bursts of noise. In an interview with David Dye, Albarn and Hewlett discuss the project and its origins.