Sunday, January 26, 2014

Gorillaz - Gorillaz (2001)

Truly (indeed) One of the Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

According to their original press info, it read something on these lines "Gorillaz is a new band consisting of Murdoc (“a snaggle-toothed Svengali”), 2D (“a sweetheart with a blank sheet of paper where his mind should be”), Russel (“a hip-hop hard man from the US of A”) and Noodle (“a 10-year-old Asian axe princess”). This press kit along with their debut self titled album Gorillaz (2001) contained a publicity photo, but it was just a cartoon drawing of the so called band members.

In reality, this alternative trip hop virtual band (if you still don't know) was/is a side project from English Alternative Britpop band Blur’s frontman Damon Albarn. Joining Albarn were comic book artist Jamie Hewlett (Tank GirlMiho Hatori (of the Shibuya-kei, indie rock Japanese band Cibo Matto),  rapper Del Tha Funky Homosapien, TinaWeymouth (of Talking Heads and the Tom Tom Club), and acclaimed hip hop producer Daniel M. Nakamura better known as Dan the Automator (the man behind Dr. Octagon and Deltron 3030). This diverse group of musicians and artists hid behind the Gorillaz name and joined forces to make one of the 2001’s most interesting debut side projects that went to sell over ten million copies worldwide and earning them an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Most Successful Virtual Band ever.

Their first single, the global super hit “Clint Eastwood” has to be one of the coolest songs that was released that year. In fact, Rolling Stone magazine still considers it one of the 100 best songs of the 2000s. This great track features a laid-back, electronic reggae-inspired piano-and-bass dub loop, Albarn’s sleepy vocals, and some colorful rapping from Del Tha Funky Homosapien complemented by Hewlett’s wonderful (and hugely popular) animated music video. Another highlight of this album is the smooth “Tomorrow Comes Today”, a sly track that combines hip-hop drums with an easy-going harmonica loop.

Not all of the songs on “Gorillaz” are as laid-back as these two singles (“Punk”, for example, is like a long-lost classic), but the overall vibe here is pretty mellow. Albarn handles the mellow angle pretty well, primarily because his British drawl makes him sound disinterested and detached even when he tries to sound aggressive.

Sadly, like most side projects and multi-artist collaborations, this one also suffers from several lackluster tracks and a few style combinations that just don’t work. Of the 15 tracks here (17 if you count the “hidden” remixes”) only a handful are worth repeated listens. As much filler as there is, though, the stronger tracks like their third single "Rock the house" make up for the weaker ones. Nonetheless, as a album listed in the book "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die", this album is a must for every audiophile if not a regular music fan!


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...