"The Fall" by Gorillaz

Gorillaz
The Fall

Parlophone
2011

Review

The Gorillaz gave their fans a pretty nice gift in the form a free to stream (or download if you a member of their fan club) album that was made almost entirely from instruments you can download as apps on an iPad. You can get it at http://thefall.gorillaz.com

I believe the fact that the album is free makes it easier for Damon and company to experiment like this as it seems very limiting artistically to make an entire album this way - especially if you've ever seen the footage of the "group" live when there are so many great live instruments on stage in addition to the usual set of synthesizers and samplers.

For me The Gorillaz represent a sort of meta-hip-hop approach to music. Hip-Hop attempts to take elements from wherever and turn them into something to fit a particular genre where one or more MC's flow over the "beats" made from a bunch of recycled elements. The artistry is in how these elements are combined. Gorillaz embrace this ethos and take it a step further by not bounding themselves to one genre to seemlessly transition between Rock, Reggae, Electronic, R&B and (of course) Hip-Hop. However, perhaps because of the nature of the materials that the group is working with this time around, you get less of the genre mixing than what you might be used to if you have been following the group for a while. Notably, there is no Hip-Hop to be found. Which is a bummer - but again, the album is free. What you do get here is a few decent tracks that would fit in nicely as B-Sides to "Plastic Beach" and a bunch of experimental (by necessity) instrumental tracks that vary in quality from passable to pretty good.

Of the instrumental tracks, those on the "pretty good" end of that spectrum are "A Snake In Dallas" (which reminds me of the beat from Sitting on Chrome) and "Aspen Forest". Some of those on the "passable" side are the opener "Phoner To Arizona" (which sounds like a menu screen to a puzzle game) and "Detroit".

Of those tracks featuring vocals, the best is "Revolving Doors" which is very nice Gorillaz pop song, and "Bobby In Pheonix" featuring Bobby Womack over a track that starts off like some adult-contemporary or soft rock before eventually settling into a nice Mint Condition-style R&B song.

The Gorillaz have yet to release an album that has zero great songs on it, and this experimental release is worth checking out for "Revolving Doors" and "Bobby In Pheonix" alone. The rest of these songs get by mostly on the novelty of their construction.

[The Fall by Gorillaz]

3.615 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. Phoner to Arizona (04:20)
2. Revolving Doors (03:26)
3. Hillbilly Man (03:50)
4. Detroit (02:03)
5. Shy-town (02:55)
6. Little Pink Plastic Bags (03:10)
7. The Joplin Spider (03:22)
8. The Parish of Space Dust (02:26)
9. The Snake in Dallas (02:11)
10. Amarillo (03:25)
11. The Speak It Mountains (02:15)
12. Aspen Forest (02:50)
13. Bobby in Phoenix (03:17)
14. California & the Slipping of the Sun (03:24)
15. Seattle Yodel (00:39)