Gorillaz, the innovative music/art project led by Blur frontman Damon Albarn, offers its latest album as a free download from the Gorillaz website. Members of the Gorillaz Sub Division fan club (cost: $45 annually) received the album as a free download last Christmas. For everyone else, the album can be streamed at no charge.
‘The Fall’ is notable first and foremost for how it was produced and recorded. This was an album that was conceived, recorded, and produced entirely using an iPad while on the road during the band’s 2010 North American tour. The titles of the songs hint at the locales in which they were inspired: ‘The Snake in Dallas,’ ‘Bobby in Phoenix,’ and ‘California and the Slipping of the Sun.’
The video for ‘Phoner to Arizona’ is chock full of images that Albarn captured during the band’s travels. The video captures the sensation of looking out the window of a train while traveling: fragmentary impressions, images out of context, and bits of overheard conversation.
This album has plenty of the signature electro-pop riffs and beats that we’ve come to expect from Gorillaz albums, not to mention Albarn’s moody vocals. It also has the Gorillaz singular brand of humor; the song ‘Seattle Yodel’ features the “yodeling” of a toy yodeling pickle.
This album has a sense of solitude about it. Its more thoughtful and introspective than any other Gorillaz album. This is no surprise considering that it was produced in lonely, impersonal spaces such as hotel rooms and train cars. The lack of live recordings is also plainly audible. Except for the vocals, some guitar tracks, and a few other notable exceptions this is a 100% digital creation, conceived and produced on a computer with a suite of software apps and a pair of headphones. This is not meant as a criticism; you’ve got to marvel at Albarn’s ability to produce an entire album while on the road. It is because of its production limitations that this album was built largely upon samples and drum loops. As a consequence, this album has plenty of electronica groove. It ranges from dubby beats, to moody electro-pop, to dancy techno beats.
This album is well worth the listen, and ideal for your next road trip.