Gorillaz - The Fall [Physical Release]

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While not the album's purpose, The Fall is a great Apple commercial at the very least.

Ten years after its conception, Gorillaz has gone from a side project for Blur’s Damon Albarn to a full-fledged entity. The latest in the band’s series of secondary releases, The Fall was famously recorded entirely on Albarn’s iPad during a recent tour. Originally released as a free(ish) download from the band’s website, The Fall receives its physical release now months later, perhaps making it the first CD to be printed ironically.

Comprised mostly of short, quiet compositions, The Fall may initially be unrecognizable to casual fans. While “Hillbilly Man” could probably be retooled into a hit for Justin Timberlake, there’s little of the dark-but-catchy dance fare that characterizes Gorillaz’s most popular singles. Instead, spacey art projects like “Little Plastic Bags” quietly wander by before blending into the next track. There are times when a good idea fails to reach its potential due to the self-imposed restriction of the iPad, but those issues might have gone unnoticed had Albarn not been so open about how the music was made.

Albarn pulls from a unique bag of tricks even while keeping things simple, most notably on “Bobby in Phoenix,” where recent collaborator Bobby Womack’s passionate vocals are combined with a prominent acoustic guitar and short list of synthesized instruments to create a sort of new-wave blues. Albarn’s clever implementation of Womack’s vocals late in the song inspires repeat listening, showing the soul legend in a new environment that still feels natural.

While it is impressive how much Albarn squeezes out of a piece of equipment that most would assume isn’t up for the task, this is ultimately a tour-bus album—several songs are even named after the cities in which they were likely conceived. The standout cuts are sandwiched in between pleasant but unfulfilling material like “Detroit” and “Shytown” that feel a little hollow and solitary. There’s a metaphor to be found there, but it’s hard to tell if that was intentional.

While not the album’s purpose, The Fall is a great Apple commercial at the very least. Bedroom wizards everywhere should be inspired by what Albarn manages to do here and it’s a testament both to the artist and his tools that he was able to create
such a project on what’s basically a big cellphone. With that said, we’ve seen what Gorillaz can be with more options so this album will always have an asterisk (or at least until Albarn releases a vinyl LP crafted on a Nintendo DS).

Purchase The Fall by the Gorillaz

32 Comments

  • Notorious H.A.T.E.R.

    Damn, this is really turning into a battle about race relations. First and foremost, this isn't hip-hop, I don't know what genre to classify it in but it's not hip-hop. For all those who say live in the present and not the past, the past determines what the present is like. America is the way it is today because of its history. If America had no past then it wouldn't have a present, or future, correct? The demographics of America, the voting patterns, the dynamics of this country can only be understood by analyzing history. Why do the majority of black people reside in the south, historical reasons, why are southern whites but southerners in particular more conservative, historical reasons. Why do Russia and America still distrust one another, historical reasons. So who ever says live in the present must not understand that with out yesterday there can be no today. For all the black people out there white boys are never going to relate to what you go through. They don't believe in racial profiling because it never happened to them, which is funny because it isn't going to happen to them because they're white. My mother is white and as a child she explained it all to me. She told me I was black even through I was extremely light; she said white Americans will never accept me a white man. She was right, look at Obama. Growing up with her side of the family was cool, people are people but when ever race came up I realized that white people view blacks differently. Blacks are not Jews, no one feels sorry for black people. I know this sounds crazy but white people blame black people for racism. Its like blaming the victim, somehow through a distorted way of thinking black people are responsible for slavery and all the effects of it. Black people just got freed really in the sixties with the signing of the Civil Rights Act. So you really think that you are going to be able to undue 400 years of slavery, followed by poverty, discrimination and lack of quality education in 4 decades? Absolutely not. This sounds harsh but black people as a whole are under developed in comparison to white people due to their second class citizen status and its going to take them awhile to catch up, but eventually they will. One last thing I should say is that if you are black don't expect white people to relate to you, they see the world differently, they will always see it differently. They grow up being taught different point of views. History has no favorites though and their time is about up. The Mexicans which are basically Native Americans are returning to take back what was stolen from them years ago. The Chinese are rising, the balance of power is shipping to the east. People of European descent contributed immensely to humanity; computers, advancements in medicine,automobiles, etc. But so has everyone, without some one creating the wheel thousands of years ago we wouldn't have automobiles now. Humanity builds upon past creations. It is just that when one people are on top they forget that they are just a part of something larger and start to feel superior. They will never understand colored people, because people of color,i.e. Asians, Blacks, Indians, have been the victims of their actions.

  • Anon

    This is a pretty damn good album for its limitations. Love gorillaz. But yeah, this particular album isn't really hip hop at all. No rapping, no real beats of any kind, just atmospheric music. Their other albums i could classify as hiphop, but this, not so much.

  • rodney

    One of my favorite groups doing it right now. I liked Plastic Beach way more, and I agree with 3.5, but I'll round up to 4.

  • Anonymous

    You're right my friend, this is not a hip-hop album , but click this link and you will find what you seek!!! http://thekillafornianz.bandcamp.com/

  • Anonymous

    Gorillaz have had hiphop elements in their albums but this isn't a hiphop album

  • thisTruth

    BOTTOM LINE: perfect bedroom music if you were planning on seducing an alien..

  • Anonymous

    It's not only simple minded to call anything "white boy music," it's also racist as hell. Solid effort from Alburn though. 4 stars for me I actually enjoyed the minimalism.

    • Anonymous

      Live in the present you stupid fucks!!

    • Anonymous

      Though slavery is cruel, slavery brought black people to america. By the way, slaves were used as far back as the biblical and ancient days, and they weren't always black. People need to stop being racist about it, it was part of many cultures. People that think only black people were slaves throughout history need to go read a book. As far is this album being "Hip Hop," I haven't heard it yet, but they have had many collabos in the Hip Hop culture in the past. No different than the Roots or Pharoahe Monch using live instruments, ie, guitars, drums, etc. They blend rock elements into hip hop. It's good, creative music.

    • really?

      there you go, the good ole "slaves" fall back. smh ignorant mother fucker, no person on a hiphop site now a days has any connections to slave owners, so bringing that up is a completely invalid point. Germany had the holocaust but do we still judge them for that?

    • Anonymous

      you know what else was racist as hell? having slaves for 300 years. i guess that is pretty damn racist though, callin something like it is really is racist.

  • Phillip Wang

    Love Gorillaz, even D-Sides and G-Sides, but I dunno, this album didn't really do much for me, Revolving Doors is great, but the majority of it is just basic soundscapes.

  • Dominic

    There's some interesting stuff here, but I don't really recommend it unless you enjoy some of the more obscure Gorillaz work.

  • FRoSTY

    People that keep saying this is not Hip Hop, clearly don't have a clue what Hip Hop is. Hip Hop is a culture, a lifestyle, not just rap. If you think that rap is the only form of hip hop, and that hip hop is only "black people," then you are clearly a simple minded fool. For the people that refer to any music as "white boy" music, I feel bad that you've grown up with a corrupted simple mind. Go read a book. You clowns are the reason why the current state of mainstream rap is wack.

    • Anonymous

      Tell me what makes this specific album hip hop? They have had hiphop in there albums like the others but tell me how this album is hiphop

  • Anonymous

    This album is amazing!

  • Devante Introspective-Dialect Bennett

    .........5

  • kamagraman

    Of course this is HipHop-some of you should listen before making ignorant comments... Fantastic band + album (as all the albums are...)

  • spang

    possibly the best yet.... love it

  • lol

    this not real hip hop or rap this is white boy music shit is wack

  • war22

    since when they have something to do with hiphop ??

    • Anonymous

      Uhm...ever hear of a little song called Clint Eastwood? It had Del on it. Rock the House? That had Del on it too. November Has Come had MF Doom on it. Dirty Harry had Booty Brown. Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach had Snoop. Stylo and Sweepstakes had Mos Def. And All Alone had Roots Manuva. Is 8 songs enough for you? not to mention his collaborative work with Dan The Automator and Danger Mouse. .

  • Johnny Massacre

    I think to say that Hillbilly Man could be turned into a Justin Timberlake single is discrediting the production skills of Timbaland; that beat really sounds like it was made on an iPad with 808 stock sounds, whereas Timberlake's last album was seriously well produced.

  • youngvito79

    This is not hip hop...