You know you’re getting old when suddenly you’re content with clothes, cooking products and the odd DVD box set for Christmas. Unbelievable.
This year I’ve treated myself to a lot of music. And in the past three months alone I’ve picked up nine new albums. Now, this would immediately strike anyone who knows me well as odd, because, while I love to listen to all kinds of music, I suppose I’ve been quite conservative when it comes to investing in whole albums by artists I’ve only heard a single track from.
[NB: published on 22/12/10 as I was majorly busy during this time]
Though I’ve driven past it on many occasions I’d never actually been inside The O2 (or Millennium Dome as it was originally called) until now. Making our way toward the gargantuan structure from North Greenwich tube station its 12 yellow support arms dazzled against the night sky, illuminating the oversized marquee like a spaceship that had landed right in the centre of the city. Inside the thing itself was a myriad of restaurants, cafés, bars and entertainment venues all packed together in one of the most inventive architectural feats I’ve ever seen.
That night I was treated to a rapturous harmony of music from all corners of the globe, from the Lebanese National Orchestra for Arabic Music to De La Soul. Music from all three of the band’s studio albums – Gorillaz, Demon Days and Plastic Beach – was played, including some favourites I witnessed live for the first time, ‘19-2000’, ‘Tomorrow Comes Today’ and ‘Demon Days’.
The only thing to be melancholy about is the fact that record companies are releasing music as download-only singles. Gorillaz second true single (‘Superfast Jellyfish’ has been postponed) to promote Plastic Beach, ‘On Melancholy Hill’, was released on July 25. While Phase Three is turning out to be a bit of a disappointment in terms of B-sides and physical discs to add to my collection, Gorillaz latest multimedia foray has made indulging in their world all the easier. There’s been no shortage of website content, YouTube videos and they’ve even released a game for the web/iPhone/iPad (created by Matmi using Unity and Flash).
It’s back to Jamie Hewlett’s classic 2D characters for the ‘On Melancholy Hill’ promo video. Following the spectacular CG versions of the band in the ‘Stylo’ video that had me doing a double take, I hoped that Passion Pictures (the studio behind the digital tech for Gorillaz’ videos) would be doing the same for all of their coming promos. Mixing 2D drawings, 3D models and CG animation in one pot, this video has the distinct feel that it was a bit too ambitious and less costly methods had to be employed to finish it in time. Still, it’s the first reappearance of the real Noodle after ‘El Mañana’, so here’s to that. Cyborg Noodle is too creepy.
Something that’s neither creepy nor disappointing, in fact quite the opposite, is the band’s smuggler’s run of live dates. The Escape to Plastic Beach World Tour begins in North America this October. I’ve forked out once again to see them on the European leg of their tour, this time at the London O2 Arena. The date was originally set for September 15, but it was rescheduled to November 16 to coincide with the other tour dates. Lots to looked forward then as Gorillaz’ third phase continues.
It’s now been two months since the long-awaited release of Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach album. I’ve been playing it through track-by-track almost every day without fail. Since my premier listen, many of the tracks have begun to impart the layers of depth and diversity I was so hopeful of. ‘Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach’, featuring Snoop Dogg and Hypnotic Brass, is one such example of a track that pricked my ears up when I first heard it, but has now moved into the realm of instant-body-shaker. The moment the trippy double-double starts in the second half, I can’t help but bop along to it like a hyperactive woodpecker.
I went to see Gorillaz live at the Camden Roundhouse less than two weeks ago, and that, too, was a gravity-defying night of elation.
Today ‘Superfast Jellyfish’ was the second single from the album to be released for digital download. This track became one of my immediate favourites. De La Soul provide the comedic rap (the lyrics ‘we be the colours of the mad and the wicked, we be bad when we brick it’ are now totally ingrained in my musical cortex) and the Fallout 3-like, retro opener is actually sampled from an advert for Swanson’s microwavable frozen breakfast sandwiches. It’s great to see the track out for single release. I will, of course, be supporting it, but I do wish the band would release the official remixes and some new B-sides along with it. Perhaps I’ll talk more about the Phase Three B-sides and remixes in a future post. In the meantime, I think you’ve got time for a hot, home-cooked breakfast…