Including animation as an aspect of your entire musical image may seem to be an intrepid effort by a band to be unique amongst the hoards of media whoring artists we witness today, but I think having your entire music video/ live set revolve around cartoons is a bit more political than that. Maybe it is a cry for privacy, or maybe it is even a way for former well known musicians to keep their anonymity while making mainstream music. Of all the reasons Gorillaz try to keep their identities secret, the last choice is probably the most reconcilable. Even more displeasing to the Gorillaz foolish attempt to remain an enigma through their music, is when their own fans actually find out who they are. Credentials are a bitch, aren’t they, Gorillaz? Well, it’s not hard to figure out who exactly makes up the band when looking at their animation depictions of themselves, regardless of what the animated cartoons look like. The animated sequencing is made up of four unique characters who are completely unrelated in every way, shape and form, much like the actual band members themselves. There is Murdoc, the harsh, tough guy British bass player/ songwriter. And there is 2-D, the trippy, yet likeable singer/keyboardist. Noodle is the guitar player, a 10 year old Chinese girl who excels in martial arts, and a virtuoso of every string instrument. Then there is Russel, the ghetto badass drummer who manhandles the mic from time to time with his insane rhymes. Meanwhile, behind the pencil life forms of these musicians, are much more recognizable faces. You have probably heard of Blur, who Damon Albarn fronted before singing for this hip-hop/ stoner rock blend of psychedelia. And if you like the Talking Heads, you are sure to know Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz. All you fans of Deltron 3030 will be attracted to Gorillaz, especially since the creative force behind them, Dan The Automator and Del Tha Funkee Homosapien provide all the samples and rhymes behind the spacey vocals of Albarn. Del has a voice all his own, and is instantly decipherable from the get go, so his vagueness is easily lost. Why these celebrity chose to remain hidden by animation is anyone’s inference. But at least the animation looks good.
Much like the puzzling mystery of why they chose to keep identity a secret when it blatantly is not, Gorillaz music is perplexing. It ranges from soothing and psychedelic, to irritating and abrasive sampling with rather annoying ambient sounds added to the more familiar Albarn/ Dan Nakamura pairing of comforting vocals and spicy synthesized beats. As already stated, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien manages the role of guest rapper for Gorillaz’ album, and does a magnificent job. His rhymes, rather than being arrogant and cocky, are more abrasive in an intelligent, political manner. And political is not meant in the anarchist form, but more of an ironic, cynical way. He often regards more serious matters in a much more light-hearted, yet brusque approach. His rhyming is almost genius, as he bends syllables to make everything sound in place, as Shakespeare did with iambic pentameter. If he doesn’t like how two lines adhere, he’ll shape the sounds into whole new words to make them fit, defying language.
But not everything about Gorillaz’ album is as picture perfect as Del’s rapping and rhyming. As much of a genius Dan ‘The Automator’ Nakamura is, he relies too much on ambient sounds to make his samples throughout the album. And even though some of his beats are very cool, paired with nice horn parts, or catchy synths, the linear structure of this album is a very tedious listen, and often just annoys you to the teeth more than mellows you out. Damon Albarn’s voice is just boring. It might be spacey, trippy and whatnot, but an hour of linear structure and ‘soothing’ beats is just a bit pompous. Ambience, as well, plays a huge factor in listening comfort. While some samples and electronic production sound absolutely mind melting, the sound choice (such as a conch shell, spiraling dimension, thudding screeches and howls, etc.) irk the hell out of you, until you just don’t want to listen anymore.
Gorillaz’ album just proves to be an avant-garde take on trip hop, but fails due to the lack of grit in the groove, and bombarding waves of annoying sound. If there is a rhyme to the reason, then Gorillaz will realize what their electronic take on avant-garde music is lacking in, rather than hoarding it out a second time. Except for a few exceptions where Del Tha Funkee Homosapien revives the huge disappointment with sparse rapping in quick lived brevity, the Gorillaz’ first album fails at being something even remotely rewarding to listen to.
I disagree with you completely. This album definitley deserves atleast more than a 3. The beats are crazy good, and this can sometimes even be classified as "ambiance". If you picked this up because you like Dan the Automator and Del, then stick to Deltron 3030, because this is completley different.
I completely agree with the rating and the review. The review was well written but you did a spend a little to much time on Del.
This album sounds awesome at first, but then it gets extremely dull. Some of the beats are pretty cool and mellow but the album lacks when it comes to standout tracks or things just get uninspired and completely boring.
I don't try to focus on what a bands 'theme' is, rather than just listening to their music. If I like it, i'll analyze the band further. It was way too melancholy and droning to be considered remotely good to me.
Blasphemous review, yet good.
This album is way beyond average. Sure, it's experimental and at times tedious, but this album has some extremely great moments. Aw, well, good review anyways, though I highly disagree with what you said.
theres a few songs off the album i havent heard, so i wont rate it, but i disagree with you entirely. i think the band is really good and this album is their best. however your review was nicely written and a good read. all i can really disagree with is your rating. nice job however.