Friday, February 26, 2010
Gorillaz: Telegraph UK Newspaper Gives 'Plastic Beach' 5 Star Album Review
Their official Facebook page may list Essex as Gorillaz’ HQ, but this action- packed concept album finds the cartoon band on an isolated island constructed entirely of consumer detritus and exploring the melancholy beauty of mankind’s interaction with the natural world. It’s a great metaphor for the playful way Damon Albarn has built up the Gorillaz’ danceably eclectic sound from offcuts of hip hop, funk, alternative rock, pop, world and electronica. He doesn’t steal, borrow or lazily recycle from other genres. He lovingly salvages the things they’ve left behind, like a hip, 21st century Womble.
And the shiny, platinum-selling pop songs he assembles from this musical bric-a-brac have attracted a deliciously disparate collective of artists to Plastic Beach.
The album opens with a warm wash of oceanic strings, before hitting a shore of hard, dissonant brass notes – powerfully reminiscent of that sinister old Open University theme music. Then the hip hop beat drops in to the bark of Plastic Beach’s first celebrity inhabitant. Snoop Doggy Dogg greets us like a guard dog pacing back and forth on the island’s perimeter, while Albarn’s distorted voice hovers above like a melodic military drone. From there the seductive rat-a-tat tabla, flute and strings of the Lebanese National Orchestra lures us into the arms of London grime rappers Bashy and Kano, who prepare us to meet some big names along the road.
For the kids, this record will be like hearing a coolly remixed version of their parents’ iPods on shuffle. Albarn’s scavenged up Eighties soul sweater Bobby Womack, the Clash’s Mick Jones and Paul Simonon, hip hop grandmasters De La Soul and narky post-punker Mark E Smith.
Plastic Beach’s finest moment comes when laconic ol’ Lou Reed slouches in for the transcendent Some Kind of Nature. He’s beachcombing for “some kind of majesty/some chemical low/some kind of metal made from glue/some kind of plastic I can wrap around you” while Albarn’s brine-brimming, manga-eyed falsetto reminds him that “all we are/is stars”.
All that Eastern philosophy Albarn read while writing Monkey – Journey to the West must have rubbed off – Plastic Beach plays out like the Tao of 2010. (source)