Gorillaz is an experiment by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett that mixes music, marketing, and animated art. The two members, along with a handful of collaborators, are represented publicly by four virtual characters: 2D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle, and Russel Hobbs. When the band launched in 1998, the characters and their world were portrayed in music videos, the band’s website, and limited live performances. But the idea of Gorillaz feels better suited for 2017, when fictional characters having their own social media accounts is common practice.
Their new portraits, which step a little too close to the uncanny valley, are designed like Twitter avatars. But these aren’t the new designs, per se. The band isn’t limited to human bodies, so its depiction is more fluid. In the video released today, they’re 2D, drawn like a grimy update of the Scooby-Doo gang.
With the album releasing next month, we can expect many more videos in the coming weeks. But what I’m most curious about is how the band takes advantage of the rest of technology. Early albums were chances to flirt with the idea of virtual pop stars, but now idols like Hatsune Miku actually exist — and fans can use their software to make songs of their own.
In 2017, Gorillaz can act on an idea that wasn’t quite possible in 1998. But they’ll need to best a number of international newcomers that have built on their work. Hopefully we see the former, and not just another weird, bold idea devolving into commercial spots and shallow collaborations with VR brands.
Gorillaz Reveal New Album Humanz Details, Cover Art, Massive Tracklist
Following the announcement earlier today of the title (Humanz) and release date (April 28) of the new album from Gorillaz, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett have revealed the cover art and massive tracklist for the LP. There are 14 tracks on the regular edition, with five more on the deluxe. A Super Deluxe Vinyl Box Set will also contain each of the 14 regular edition tracks on its own piece of vinyl, backed by an alternate version. (Yes, that means it’s a 14-disc box set.) They’ve also put out a six-minute film called “Saturnz Barz (Spirit House),” directed by Hewlett, containing the track “Saturnz Barz” [ft. Popcaan], as well as clips from “Ascension” [ft. Vince Staples], “We Got the Power” [ft. Jehnny Beth of Savages] and “Andromeda” [ft. D.R.A.M.]. (All four tracks were listed on TIDAL earlier today.) Each of those tracks premiered on various radio stations today.
As previously reported, Humanz features contributions from Grace Jones, Mavis Staples, Danny Brown, De La Soul, Pusha T, Kali Uchis, Kelela, and many more. And now it has also been revealed that actor Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One, Bloodline) narrates the album’s interludes.
According to a press release, the album was recorded in London, Paris, New York, Chicago, and Jamaica and produced by Gorillaz, Pusha T/John Legend collaborator the Twilite Tone of D /\ P, and Remi Kabaka. Also, tomorrow, Friday, March 24, Gorillaz will perform the entire album live at a show in London at a secret location. (Ticket info can be found here.) On June 10, Gorillaz will headline their Demon Dayz Festival in Margate, England.
01 Ascension feat. Vince Staples
02 Strobelite feat. Peven Everett
03 Saturnz Barz feat. Popcaan
04 Momentz feat. De La Soul
05 Submission feat. Danny Brown and Kelela
06 Charger feat. Grace Jones
07 Andromeda feat. D.R.A.M.
08 Busted and Blue
09 Carnival feat. Anthony Hamilton
10 Let Me Out feat. Mavis Staples and Pusha T
11 Sex Murder Party feat. Jamie Principle and Zebra Katz
12 She’s My Collar feat. Kali Uchis
13 Hallelujah Money feat. Benjamin Clementine
14 We Got The Power feat. Jehnny Beth
Deluxe edition bonus tracks:
15 The Apprentice feat. Rag’n’ Bone Man, Zebra Katz, and RAY BLK
16 Halfway To The Halfway House feat. Peven Everett
17 Out Of Body feat. Kilo Kish, Zebra Katz, and Imani Vonshà
18 Ticker Tape feat. Carly Simon and Kali Uchis
19 Circle Of Friendz feat. Brandon Markell Holmes