Words by Amanda Remling

We’ve all come to expect weird and confusing things from Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s fictional and virtual band, Gorillaz. So when I threw on the first track of the Gorillaz new album The Fall, I shouldn’t have been too surprised when I had no clue what was going on. I’m not going to lie…this album’s weird.

The Fall is an actual journey, with each track being recorded on the road throughout the month of October into early November. Beginning in Montreal on October 3, 2010, the album advances to Boston, New Jersey, Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix and further. The album finally settles up in Seattle on November 2nd. What makes this album even more unique (besides the fact that it was recorded all over North America over 32 days last fall) is that it was recorded using over 20 different iPad applications.

Produced by Gorillaz and Stephen Sedgwick, The Fall was already released to the Gorillaz fan club back in December. The best way to describe the 15 tracks on The Fall is a wild trip (not only in the sense of the album being an actual recorded journey, but the fact that while listening to it, you feel like you just spent a week smoking up in Amsterdam).

Most of the album could be tracks for a video game, and track one “Phoner to Arizona” is no exception. The song features crazy beats with a soft background that sounds pretty parallel to Eminem’s “Without Me.” “Revolving Doors” while keeping the techno-like video game sound going, showcases 2D’s vocals with a tribal-ish chant haunting the background. This track and “HillBilly Man” are one of the few on the album that feature vocals, while the rest are pretty much “instrumental.”

“Detroit” is one of the strictly instrumental tracks with a sick harp-like sound and metallic beat. To give you a better idea of what it sounds like my mom thought for a moment that my computer froze and speakers got jammed on the song.

“Little Pink Plastic Bags” will definitely be an album favorite. Cause I mean aren’t we all just plastic bags….drifting through the wind…wanting to start again? Psych. These little pink plastic bags are “blowing on the highway… alone.” “Little Pink Plastic Bags” drift into “The Joplin Spider” which straight up sounds like lasers being shot at you (a big change from the melancholy track before it.)

“The Parish of Space Dust” is a pretty cool song which opens with the sound of a static-y radio playing some country and a quick shout out, “God Bless Texas.” Surprise! It was recorded in Houston, Texas. They must be a big fan of Texas, because the next two tracks “The Snake in Dallas” and “Amarillo” were also recorded in Texas (as you could tell by the names of the tracks).

I’m pretty sure that they make an attempt to hypnotize or brainwash listeners with “The Speak it Mountains.” “It is the dawn,” “Time has shifted,” “The air is thinner,” are phrases that are repeated for almost the first minute of the song by what sounds like the same man and woman who lent their voice to our GPS systems. “Aspen Forest” is a pretty wild track which will strangely give you a feeling that you’re eating at a restaurant in a video game when all of a sudden, BAM, you’re in China Town.

One song that doesn’t really fit is “Bobby in Phoenix.” The song has a soulful feel to it, which makes sense because it features R&B/soul singer-songwriter Bobby Womack. The guy must really love Phoenix since it sounds like all he wants to do is “Let’s talk about Phoenix.”

You could tell that you’re nearing the end of the album with “California and the Slipping of the Sun.” The track begins with what sounds like a man making announcements about baggage and transportation at a train station or airport. (Apple really needs to hire Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett for their next iPad commercial. I had no idea that that really big iPod could do more than just watch movies and go on Facebook.)

And finally the last track, “Seattle Yodel,” really rounds out the bizarre listening experience by actually featuring yodeling for the whole 0:39 second song.

The Fall is a pretty hypnotic album. I never really understood how people become video game zombies that camp out in front of their screens for hours, but this album definitely put me in a trance at times. The Fall certainly doesn’t feature any songs I see hitting the mainstream, like “Clint Eastwood” or “Feel Good Inc.,” but for Gorillaz fans it’s a pretty wild ride. I can’t picture anyone listening to this while driving in their car, but it’s definitely an album to throw on when your evening gets a little hazy.

“The Fall”
Virgin Records
© April 19th, 2011



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