He's one of the most prolific artists in modern rock, and he's built an extensive discography over the last 20-plus years as a member of such popular acts as Blur and Gorillaz -- but when he releases 'Dr. Dee' next month, Damon Albarn will be stepping out as a true solo artist for the first time since he put out the double EP 'Democrazy' in 2003. That milestone could be what had Albarn in such a reflective mood during a wide-ranging recent interview with The Guardian that found him musing on his past, present, and future -- as well as the apparent demise of both Blur and Gorillaz.

As far as Blur are concerned, the future has been cloudy for years -- the band went on hiatus after 1999's '13' album, followed by guitarist Graham Coxon's departure from the group. Though they entered a quasi-reunion state in 2009, appearing for sporadic live dates and singles, a new album has been slow in coming -- and Albarn discussed the reasons for that with the Guardian, saying "I find it very easy to record with Graham [Coxon]," but saying of bassist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree, "With the other two, it's harder for them to reconnect. You know what I mean? It's fine when we play live – it's really magical still – but actually recording new stuff, and swapping musical influences… it's quite difficult."

Asked if Blur would record again, Albarn said "No, I don't think so," and said "No, not really" when asked if they'd perform live after their show at Hyde Park in August. Asked point blank if Blur were finished, Albarn responded, "In all likelihood, I would say."

Gorillaz, the genre-busting pop collective founded by Albarn and illustrator Jamie Hewlett, seems to have run  their course as well. Asked if we'd hear another album from the group, Albarn said, "Er… unlikely," alleging that Hewlett walked away from the project. "I think we were at cross purposes somewhat on that last record, which is a shame," he explained. "So until a time comes when that knot has been untied..."

The news will be sad for fans of either group, but it's fitting -- change has been a recurring theme in Albarn's work from the beginning, and his restless muse has taken him into some unexpected areas over the last 15 years, including next month's 'Dr. Dee,' the soundtrack to an opera about the life of 19th century British mathematician/spy John Dee. As he told the Guardian, "I'm just doing what I always do. It's a bit daunting sometimes, but it's important to keep challenging yourself. Maybe that's really old-fashioned."