Release Date: Oct 23, 2020
Record label: Parlophone
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Rap, Underground Rap, Left-Field Rap
Thank heavens, Damon Albarn, Jamie Hewlett and Remi Kabaka Jr. are back with a new Gorillaz record: Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez. The ever-reliable, ever-shifting weird pop conglomerate are now on their seventh studio album - just one fewer than Albarn's (other?) day job band, Blur. The awfully named, wonderfully inventive project known as the Song Machine began with a mysterious 23-second teaser all the way back in January (when the world was the old normal), and has continued, with a song released every five weeks or so until the final album release.
Gorillaz have always sought creativity without boundaries. The multimedia collective essentially offer Damon Albarn's musicality in full flight, the rolling cast of collaborators illustrating his tastes and passions, while refusing to be hemmed in by the neat identity of Blur, say. The ongoing 'Song Machine' project, though, took this one step further.
Once again disrupting conventions in their round-the-back-door fashion, Gorillaz thrives in 2020 with Song Machine Season One: Strange Timez; the newest concept that sees them joined with a truly exciting roster of collaborators, including Beck , Elton John , Octavian , Slaves , Slowthai , St. Vincent , Unknown Mortal Orchestra , Skepta , and many, many more. Episode 1 - "Momentary Bliss ft.
Gorillaz continue their gradual rise in quality from these past four years and achieve a return to form. Damon Albarn of Blur has long used his virtual band Gorillaz as an avenue to indulge in all manner of pop and electronic music experimentation. They are best known for a run of highly successful alternative rock and trip hop albums with numerous B-sides from 2000-2010. The wait time between each release gradually got longer and longer, until recent years when Gorillaz have been highly prolific and appear to currently be Albarn's main project. Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez is the logical peak of a rise in quality since the low of their first release in seven years, Humanz in 2017, which was decent but inconsistent.
The Lowdown: Ever since they first stole our hearts about 20 years ago, Gorillaz -- the genre-splicing virtual band spearheaded by Damon Albarn, Jamie Hewlett, and now Remi Kabaka Jr. -- have provided about as much visual flamboyance and experimentation as musical. In other words, they've always made exceptional use of things like music videos, 3-D concert projections, and web-based gimmicks to not only enhance the impact and mystique of their albums and lore but also to push the limits of what modern, multimodal artistry can achieve in a broader sense.