Mar 30


Gorillaz. Known now to all as less of a pop phenomenon and more of pop royalty. The British-based virtual band has been on the cutting edge of multimedia musical innovation since the turn of the century. Gorillaz were formed in 1998 by musician Damon Albarn (Blur), and visual artist Jamie Hewlett. The band’s four members are fictional animated characters with their own unique and dramatic back-stories. The introduction of this revolutionary form of art came to the British and American public with huge success. The introduction of nuanced fictional characters with dark and electronic music has added a fourth dimension to the musical universe of the two dimensional band.

The virtual band met the public eye with a unique blend of heavy hip-hop beats, produced vocal samples provided by the band’s lead singer “2-D” and popular underground hip-hop MCs. Their easily recognizable first official single “Clint Eastwood” features one of the most recognizable choral vocal samples of the new millennium: “I ain’t happy, feelin’ glad. I got sunshine, in a bag. I’m useless, but not for long. The future is coming on.” The song was released with hip-hop accompaniment provided by infamous MC, Del tha Funkee Homosapien.
Gorillaz have used a number of techniques to grow and maintain their musical popularity. It only seems natural for the members of the band to be the characters that they were created to be, and Hewlett has preserved the Gorillaz’ comic book roots through the creation and progression of the band member’s stories. 2-D, Murdoch, Noodle, and Russel are all unique characters with interesting histories and personality traits. Creating such characters has allowed the music of the virtual band to be progressive and innovative while staying true to the roots of the characters. If Albarn and Hewlett wish to take the music in a new direction, they simply take the stories and values of the Characters in a similar direction.

The Gorillaz new album Plastic Beach is a beautiful representation of the significance of being a digital band in a digital age. Plastic Beach is an album that has been created to be discovered in interactive and innovative ways. The Gorillaz website was just re-launched with an interactive flash-based story game titled after the album. The game is a combination of flash animations and an interactive model built for the album artwork of Plastic Beach. The Music from the album stemmed from a project called carousel started in 2008, but the visuals from Plastic Beach have a life and a story all their own. The creators of the interactive Plastic Beach site (Most likely Albarn, Hewlett, and a team of flash-fluent tech geeks) have pushed the envelope for engaging fans and giving their followers incentive to stay committed to their brand, and keep listening to their band.

For a digital band in a digital age, the possibilities are endless. After experiencing the website for a few hours, you start to get the feeling that the biggest struggle for the Gorillaz is having too much exclusive content to distribute. Even I, in my Gorillaz-themed fanboy frenzy got a little burnt out on the steps necessary to fully experience their newest project. However when you’re a platinum selling, arena packing, eardrum bursting, perfect storm of a virtual band, you don’t really need to worry much about keeping people entertained. Which makes me happy that the gorillaz go the extra mile for their fans. If you have time, poke around the site, and experience the vivid and detailed essence of Plastic Beach. After all it was created with you in mind.

Plastic Beach Webpage

STYLO Music Video - Plastic Beach