The well known British band Gorillaz recently announced their upcoming collaboration album, “Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez” which will be released on October 23rd, 2020.
They were formed in 1998 by Blur lead Damon Albarn and cartoonist Jamie Hewlett. The band consists of four virtual characters: 2-D, Noodle, Murdoc Niccals, and Russel Hobbs which were all animated by Hewlett. The animated characters allowed the band to hide the artist’s identity.
Gorillaz had their first live concert in 2001 where the band played behind a screen as visuals were projected and this new project still incorporates a lot of the band’s integral cartoon visuals. Each single that has been released has an accompanied music video.
The band began dropping hints of new music back in January when they released a short 22 second clip on youtube of the “Song Machine Theme Tune.”
“‘Song Machine’ is a whole new way of doing what we do. Gorillaz breaking the mold ‘cos the mold got old,” said Hobbs, the same month the band released “Momentary Bliss” the first episode/single of the album.
“[The] world is moving faster than a supercharged particle, so we’ve gotta stay ready to drop. We don’t even know who’s stepping through the studio next. “Song Machine” feeds on the unknown, runs on pure chaos. So whatever the hell’s coming, we’re primed and ready to produce like there’s no tomorrow. Y’know, just in case…,” said Hobbs.
It appears that this collaboration project is made up of different episodes creating the “Song Machine, Season One.” So far, six episodes have been released with music videos up on youtube. The most recent and biggest release being “Strange Timez” featuring Robert Smith from The Cure.
This new episode came out September 9th and was dropped with the fall release date for the rest of the album.
Many fans believe the song lyrics are about the year 2020, it’s difficulties and the strange times sung about the state of the world under quarantine. Certain lyrics lead fans to think the band is addressing topics like COVID-19 isolation, global warming, and recent BLM activism.
The music video follows the virtual Gorillaz characters through a journey in space and Roberth Smith’s face, with his iconic makeup, as the moon. The ending shows the moon once again with lettering that reads “Be the Change”. This falls into the theme of the song and is in light of recent events addressing police brutality.
The band has been pretty vocal in their support for the BLM movement on social media this summer. On June 2nd they took to Twitter and Instagram to participate in #BlackoutTuesday.
The next day they posted two photos with the caption, “Gorillaz are enraged at the death of George Floyd and many before him at the hands of systemic racism and police brutality. It’s time to be the change and play an active part in the fight for justice and equality. White supremacy must end. Black Lives Matter. Listen. Learn. Take action. More to follow. #bethechange #blacklivesmatter✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿”.
They created a website that has many links to articles, books, and other resources to help educate about white supremacy and racism and began to sell merchandise with lettering “Be the Change” with the proceeds being donated to the London-based charity, The Black Curriculum, that educates on black history. They have advocated and used their platform in light of recent events in hope of spreading awareness and creating progress.
So far this new album isn’t too out of the ordinary for the band. Their music has always included a vast range of genres and stylistic choices. There seems to be less of an alternative or rock aspect in the already released singles compared to other albums like their self-titled “Gorillaz” which came out in 2001 So far, this project seems to have a great mix of electronic pop and hip-hop.
There will be the “Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez” album and a deluxe version. Some of the other names on the list of artists the band worked with include Elton John, 6LACK, Beck, and Octavian. The band has also announced a virtual tour for the album that is set for December. More information about ticket sales and dates can be found here.