Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
A virtual band with an appetite for all things futuristic and apocalyptic... how 21st century is that? Seriously now, for me the whole Gorillaz concept is pure genius, an ambitious project that redefined the way we can look at pop stars and everything around them - for a start, this is a band of fictional musicians that don't really exist. And then it helps that pretty much everything bearing their name has been ridiculously good, from the cartoon visuals designed by Jason Hewlett to the books, videos, dvd's, games, websites... and yes, the main reason for their existence, also the music.
With only three original albums under their belt, slowly they have been building a journey that can be described as follows: debut album Gorillaz was the soundtrack of a decadent society getting closer to its final days; Demon Days was the apocalypse itself; and now we have Plastic Beach, which in a nutshell can be described as what follows the day after.
So, the end of the world has happened, but it seems that life still goes on, although not quite the same way as before. Literally, in this album we are sitting on the remainings of our society, because Plastic Beach is basically "a floating island deep in the South Pacific, made up of the detritus, debris and washed up remnants of humanity", and we are invited to come in a journey into this equally fantastical and disquieting place.
What a concept, eh? Of course that all this would be irrelevant if the music didn't live up to the theory behind it, but fear not, because that's really not the case in here, as this collection of 16 songs is truly amazing on its own. Starting as a narcotic take into a post-hip-hop branch with an unique sound, soon Plastic Beach grows into an experimental and eclectic narrative where we encounter many different and fascinating characters that live inside its frontiers. And this is actually where the long list of guests comes in, each one playing a different character. Take a deep breath: there's Snoop Dogg, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Kano, Bashy, Bobby Womack, Mos Def, Gruff Rhys, De La Soul, Little Dragon, Mark E. Smith, Lou Reed, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, sinfonia ViVA and The Lebanese National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music.
Above all this myriad of appearances, we have of course Gorillaz themselves, but this time 2D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs seem less like (virtual-) band members and more like omnipresent characters, supervising everything and joining the dots that guide us around a territory never before explored. And with that, they seem to evolve into a larger-than-life status, a whole new level that suits them perfectly. So Damon Albarn is indeed a master in his own right. (8,5/10)
Gorillaz - Stylo (official video feat. Bruce Willis)
Gorillaz - Empire Ants (feat. Little Dragon) (mp3 via The Music Ninja)