Gorillaz: Gorillaz

Designer bands have been with us for a long time. From the "The Monkees" right up to "Hearsay" producers and musical entrepreneurs alike have been constructing acts with a greater emphasis on commercial success than musical merit. Gorillaz is the most original concept yet for a designer band. The two brains behind Gorillaz are Blur's Damon Albarn and the artist responsible for giving us "Tank Girl", Jamie Hewlett. No prizes for guessing who designs the characters and animation and who's in charge of the music. A great effort has been made to detach the real musicians from the music and allow the audience to concentrate on the animated characters designed to front the band. The four characters: 2D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russell have been given personalities and relationships that are further explored within the bands videos and website. By hiding the real musicians Albarn has created a greater sense of freedom which gives Gorillaz the potential to move in a number of directions, explore new territory, and attract younger fans without detracting or devaluing any solo projects or indeed Blur. However, on some tracks Albarn has not made full use of this freedom, "5/4 five four" and "Dunk", good though they are, should definitely have been filed in the bucket of songs labeled Blur rather than Gorillaz. The third track of the album, "Tomorrow Comes Today" begins to set a trend that is followed for the majority of the work. We are introduced to a slower more jazzy sound, with a deep lazy bass overlaid with harmonica and subtle orchestral arrangements. "Clint Eastwood" is the instantly recognizable hit from the album and is consistent with the musical style of much of the remainder of the album. The modern scratchy jazz sound reaches its height on "Latin Simone" as a bizarre Spanish sounding vocal serenades over a mixture of trumpets, piano and heavy bass. The album concludes with a spooky lost voice wondering aimlessly as the raw guitars gradually pump up and drown the voice in a sea of noise, it then goes rather quite until the hidden remixed "Clint Eastwood" makes a reprise at a greatly increased pace. For the multimedia generation the CD also includes some other goodies such as screen savers, wallpapers and some animations that might be OK on a machine more powerful than an ImagoQA 166MHz laptop.