March 10, 2010

Test Spin: Gorillaz

Print More

Gorillaz newest album, the melodically imaginative tour de force Plastic Beach, is a brilliantly crafted album that contains a mixture of beats and sounds from many cultural and tropical influences. Prior to recording Plastic Beach, Damon Albarn, the mastermind behind Gorillaz, visited a Mali landfill that gave him the inspiration for the fused plastic environment concept. Albarn hit the nail on the head with this rain forest rumpus of a CD.

Plastic Beach displays a range of electronic hip hop that branches from Gorillaz’s previous work with the scruffy synthetic beats of “Rhinestone Eyes” and “Stylo,” juxtaposed with graceful tunes like “Empire Ants” and “On Melancholy Hill.” He also manages to include a diverse group of artists all on one album, including Lou Reed, Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, and The Clash’s Mick Jones.

Album opener “Orchestral Intro” surprises from the very start with sounds of waves crashing and seagulls soaring overhead, a stunning elegance from former rocker Albarn. The second track, “Welcome to the World of Plastic Beach,” features Snoop doing an introduction for both the album and the plastic beach environment in which the fictional Gorillaz characters reside. The song consists of funky bass tones with high hat rhythms that are layered with trumpets and horns. “Welcome to the World of Plastic Beach” has a great ’70s dance feel to it, and Snoop doesn’t overdo on the rhymes, presenting a nice flow for the listener. Title track “Plastic Beach” incorporates trippy space rock with funky beats that progresses from a dark bass rhythm into phases of piano and crystallized noises.

Overall, Plastic Beach is more creative and experimental than its successors, Demon Days and the eponymous Gorillaz. Albarn and his crew of fictional cartoon musicians prove that they are still able to maintain the ingenious and resourceful sound that is illustrated throughout all their albums.


Gorillaz — “Stylo”

Original Author: Justin Balcom