Earlier this year Gorillaz kicked off a project titled Song Machine where they brought in collaborators from all sorts of genres to work on songs with their virtual band and recorded it on video. Tracks have been released over the course of the year, taking them around the world and even into space. Now they have collated the project together into a full compilation / album of sorts titled Song Machine: Season One - Strange Timez that may be the most star-studded album someone has put out in quite some time. They were able to work with Robert Smith, Elton John, St. Vincent, Octavian, Peter Hook, Beck, Georgia, Skepta and loads others.
It isn’t totally clear if they went into this process with the intention of making an album or just a bunch of songs and it spiraled into a full project. In total, they ended up with 17 tracks on the deluxe edition with some incredible features that range from some soft, moody tracks like “Friday 13th” with Octavian to laidback hip-hop like “Pac-Man” with ScHoolboy Q and then summery, glimmering multi-lingual songs like “Désolé with Fatoumata Diawara or the jazzy and lengthy "Opium" with EARTHGANG.
There are seven videos that go along with Song Machine, which are all worth viewing as the virtual band plays with the guest musicians in various locations around the world and the moon.
To support the LP, Gorillaz & the virtual band will do two virtual gigs on December 12 and 13 via LIVENow on their website. Get details and times there.
The album is a bit strange in total and doesn’t always fit super well together, but it is a microcosm of this year. It mashes together a host of collaborators who probably shouldn’t be on the same album, but Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett have a knack for making things work in music that shouldn’t. In a year defined by chaos, they make chaos as organized as it can be. And it somehow works.
Stream the full LP now, pull out some of your favorites and get your copy here.