‘The Fall’ is the latest release from Damon Albarn, the man behind the creative – and until-now media genius – band Gorillaz, is something to be pondered. The question truly is “What is it?” The album was released initially as a fan-club only download, and then on Record Store Day a vinyl version was available to the vinyl true; the following week the CD version dropped.
This “album” was recorded on an iPad during the last US tour and sounds more like a journal, a rough draft of genius combinations and beats not quite ready for prime time. Almost incomplete at times the listener is drawn in because the very thing that makes Gorillaz listenable is the mix of sounds, rhythm and textures not always immediately synthesized; the beauty is in the waiting and then the eventual climax where all is made clear. This doesn’t seem to happen on “Fall” which leaves the listener wondering if the collaboration with various other artists is what is missing as the majority of the album is seemingly solo.
Each track is from a different American or Canadian show and reflects various synth styles. “Revolving Doors” could be described as an electro-folk song and seems to hold the structure and sound one expects from Gorillaz. “Bobby In Phoenix” is another combination of jangly guitar string sound with electronic overlapping, almost as if we caught the Bobby Womack at sound-check crooning while his band tinkered away on their own instruments.
“California and the Slipping of the Sun” sounds exactly like someone in a hotel room fiddling around with an iPad and various sound recording and manipulation software. Here various samples and repeats will certainly make the mix for DJs around the world in clubs and on dance floors. “Seattle Yodel” is simple, but sounds as if a child fascinated with the sound of his own voice found the record button and played until the batteries ran down.
Without the over-the-top theatrics, and promotion and general chaos surrounding the past Gorillaz releases it’s hard to understand what this album is meant to be, a full on release with a tour and videos to look forward to? Or perhaps this is a note, letting the listeners glimpse at what is to come? Or maybe Damon wanted to see if listeners would purchase his road-weary music doodles?
Whatever the motivation, ‘The Fall’ for Gorillaz fans is worth a listen if you are in the mood. There is no hidden message here, no discernible theme and no catchy lyrics that will follow you through the day. Instead prepare yourselves for something that comes out like low-fat sour cream; not nearly as satisfying as the real thing.
Written by Meredith Underhill