On April 28 Humanz appeared – the new album of the project by Damon Albarn Gorillaz, recorded after a seven-year pause in the group’s activities. And at once with a big scope: there are two dozen tracks, and among the accomplices – like young hip-hop talents like Vince Staples, and well-deserved pop veterans like singer Grace Jones. At the request of “Medusa” Lev Gankin tells how “Humanz” appeared, what it is good about – and what is the place of Gorillaz in the modern world.
“BATH!” – carnivorous exclaims Murdoch, a drawing bassist-satanist of the band Gorillaz in the third minute of the video for the song “Saturnz Barz”. The bathtub is in an enchanted house, on which a quartet of musicians-cartoons has come upon its troubles: in a moment Murdoch will climb into the water and begin the devil-that on the ensemble members, among other things, will be attacked by a giant one-eyed boa and a talking piece of pizza.
Earlier, of course, they did not fall into such alterations, but presumably they managed to get out of this: in the last seven years nothing was heard about Murdoch and his friends. After the album “Plastic Beach” and the ensuing tours, the puppeteers standing behind Gorillaz – Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, respectively responsible for the music and visuals – went their separate ways. It was said that a cat ran between gorillas – Hewlett, they say, was upset that his creative contribution was underestimated. However, having rested from each other, the partners met and decided: reunion – to be.
Before the release of the album “Humanz” the disposition was, perhaps, for Gorillaz – and specifically for Damon Albarn – not the most winning one. Shortly before that, he reunited the band Blur, now pulled from the dusty Gorillaz box, and on the nose, apparently, also the second coming of the project The Good, The Bad & The Queen. It might seem that on the threshold of the 50th anniversary Albarn finally took up the favorite thing of veteran musicians – a journey through the waves of his memory. There would be nothing criminal in this, if not for his reputation as Albarn: he established himself as perhaps the only “Renaissance man” in the whole Brit-pop of the 1990s, a wagon capable of the most unexpected and ever exciting creative maneuvers.
He, in fact, sounded Blur several times reinvented, then plunged headlong into a purely English psychedelic, then starting from independent guitar music from across the ocean. Then there were Gorillaz’s experiments, which brought the musician a long-awaited commercial success in the US: pop songs with a solid flavor of dub and hip-hop, white tunes multiplied by a black groove (Blur bassist Alex Alex James called pale-faced Albarn “the blackest man in western London”) . After – Afrobit and Chinese pentatonic, opera about alchemists and studio sessions in Kinshasa.
For the time being, Albarn categorically did not want to enter twice into the same river, preferring to float on risky, unfamiliar streams. In this regard, the reunion parade, open Blur and continued by Gorillaz, caused some concerns.
As a result, Humanz proves that these fears can be dropped. The first full-length song on the plate is “Ascension” with the energetic rap of the 24-year-old Californian Vince Staples; At the time of the release of the previous album Gorillaz, this artist has not even thought about a musical career. The ironic rhyme for “Ascension” seems to be “Let Me Out”, recorded with the participation of almost 80-year-old Vince’s first-name surname, gospel singer Mavis Staples, but on average, the Albarn’s partners on the Humanz CD are younger than him for a generation or even two . The main hero of the song “Saturnz Barz” (the same one about the enchanted house and bath) is the fresh Jamaican dance star Popkaan, and in “Andromeda” the musician uses the services of MC from Virginia, known under the pseudonym D.R.A.M. “I grew up on the songs of Gorillaz,” D.R.A.M. “But I had no idea Damon was a dude from Blur, until my DJ told me about it.” I asked: “Blur”? Then he put this song to me: woo-hoo, and I’m like that, well, yes, of course. ”
In a word, Albarn’s current partners sometimes vaguely imagine who Blur is and what their new friend is famous for, but it does not bother him a bit – and even vice versa. Gorillaz never lived in the past. “Humanz” – both meaningfully and acoustically – the album is not about yesterday, but about today and tomorrow; The less D.R.A.M. And everyone else knows about the past, the better. The record is almost entirely composed on the ipad – a device that has not yet been invented when Gorillaz recorded their first records. There is no-no in the lyrics, and references to actual political events are slipping: for example, military campaigns in the Middle East or the victory of Donald Trump in the American elections.