'Humanz' Strays Away From Gorillaz's Typical Sound

'Humanz' Strays Away From Gorillaz's Typical Sound

A review of the latest Gorillaz release
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It’s been seven years since the last Gorillaz album and since I got to see them live at the Patriot Center in DC. Over the course of those seven years Damon Albarn, the mastermind behind the musical side of the Gorillaz, released his first ever solo album, briefly reunited with blur for a new album and tour, started the African funk supergroup Rocket Juice & the Moon with Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and created at least two operatic stage shows with Dr. Dee and wonder.land. The musical madman of has kept busy, organizing one oddball idea after another, exploring a variety of genres and styles, injecting each with his personal brand of English melancholia.

Now with the release of "Humanz," the fourth phase of Gorillaz and the fifth mainline studio album for the group, Damon Albarn has created something dark, upbeat and bathed in synths. "Humanz" is a party album for the end of the world, a final blowout celebration of life and fun and debauchery as an Armageddon of chaos rages outside. It is formed of the same electronic DNA as "Plastic Beach" and "The Fall," yet there is a thickness to its production and thematic darkness reminiscent of "Demon Days'" apocalyptic wonderland. The beats are often bangers, the synths gorgeous and warbled and the vocals range are devious, playful, smirking, and at times, poetic.

The album fits its strange narrative ideas, a discombobulated soundtrack for an “end of the world party” that rushes through phases of melancholy and regret to sinful insanity. It can be seen as narratively disjointed, but to me that works to its advantage, as Damon’s vocals only rarely waft into the thick haze of keyboards and drum machines. Albarn becomes more of a curator for the huge guest list to this grand, debauched finale of humanity and "Humanz" becomes a pseudo-playlist. The narrative is far from linear, even the interludes only act more as a thematic set dressing than some sort of exposition.

What "Humanz" lacks is the classic Gorillaz marriage of organic instrumentals with electronica, opting to focus in on the digital and synthetic. While this works extremely well, many will likely be disappointed by the absence of classic instrumentation being creatively paired with crappy drum machines, ‘80s synths and modern loops. Without the more distinct sounds, it can take a few listens to really pick apart the songs and differentiate them properly. This can be seen as both a success and a shortcoming of the album depending on how you choose to look at it.

On the one hand, it can feel like a slog to those who don’t take the time to dissect the album and its tracks. On the other hand, however, it can become a meandering exploration of this bizarre apocalypse. Fueled by politics, social unrest, and the desperation to remain human through the worst of it all, "Humanz" becomes a wonderland of synthetic madness. It bucks a strict narrative of sound and song in favor of a great, pulsating monstrosity of feelings and thoughts shared over drinks and drugs in a packed club as the world collapses outside.

Cover Image Credit: rapWAVE

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To the guy that shot my brother...

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To the guy that shot my brother,

On January 9, 2019 my families entire life changed with one phone call. The phone call that my little brother had been shot in the face, no other details. We didn't need any other details. The woman on the phone who called us in full panic told us where he was so we went, as soon as possible. I don't think it helped that not even 10 min prior I talked to Zach on the phone.. kind of irritated with him, and the ONE TIME I didn't say 'I love you' as we hung up. Could've been the last time we ever spoke.. I remember pulling up to the hospital thinking 'this can't be real' 'it's not our Zach' 'this is just a dream Sarah, WAKE UP' I'd close my eyes really tight just to open them, I was still in the hospital emergency parking lot. I could still hear the ambulance sirens coming. It was all real.

The day our life's changed was definitely a test of faith. A test of how strong we were, as a family. I sat in that waiting room ready to see the damage that has been done to my sweet baby brother. Because at that point we had no idea how lucky he got. That glimpse of seeing Zach will haunt me forever. How helpless I felt in that exact moment frequently wakes me up from these horrific dreams I've been having ever since that day. That is a moment burned into my me and families brain forever.

You always hear about these things in the movies or on the news, a house being shot up, someone shooting another innocent person, not to care if they died on your watch. But we found ourselves on the news.. We have been confined to the hospital since that day. Running on barely any sleep, taking shifts of sleep so we don't make ourselves sick taking care of Zach. Watching him suffer. Undergoing surgeries, to repair the damage you did.

Before I proceed let me tell you a little something about the man you shot.

Zachary Keith Wright. A blonde hair blue eyed boy. Who could potentially be the most annoying human on the planet (possibly coming from his sister). A man who loves his God first, loves his family second. Perfect by no means, but almost perfect to me. A 19 year old who was to graduate high school this month. After graduation he was prepping to leave for Marine boot camp in the summer.. being in the military has been Zach's dream since he could talk. Literally. Running around, playing war with underwear on our heads, and finger guns. Some would say we looked like natural born assassins.. growing up he has been a country boy. Let me tell ya country to the core. He loves this country like he loves his family. He believes in helping people, taking charge in what's right, and never leaving a brother behind. He's lived by that his whole life. Until now....

The day you shot him. The day not only did you change my brothers life, you changed his families life too. The day you almost ripped my brother out of this world... for what? A misunderstanding? Because you've let something take ahold of your life that you can't let go you're willing to kill someone innocent over? Luckily for him, his guardian angels were protecting him in your time of cowardice. There were 3 times that day he should've died, the time you shot him, the time you tried to shoot him again as he stared you directly in the face, (even tho he couldn't talk I know you could read his eyes, and he still intimidated you. That's why you tried to pull the trigger again) and the time he was running out of the house. But he lived. A man who was shot in the face, didn't lay there helpless, didn't scream in agony. That MAN walked to the neighbors to get help. Why? Because he's a MAN, and because he's on this earth for a reason.

It's gonna sound a little strange not only to you, but the audience who is reading this. I must say thank you. Even in this situation, this was the best outcome we could get. He gets to live. He will make a full recovery. He will graduate. And he will go off into the Marines. You united my family together. Closer than ever. Thank you. You tested our faith and brought us closer to our God. Thank you. Because of your moment of weakness, you showed us what prayer could do. Heal anything. Thank you. This was a bump in the road, and a helluva way to kick off our year of 2019. But here we are.. all laying in the hospital. I'm looking around as mom is sleeping in her recliner chair exhasted but still here, Zach his awake playing his xbox all hooked up to machines, fighting to heal and get better. And of course I'm writing this letter to you.

See you in trial,

From the girl whose brother you shot.

'Fight the good fight' - 1 Tim 6:12 🤟🏼💙

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23 Things That ~Barely~ Run Through A Girl's Mind During Her First Workout In, Like, Forever

Why did I do this to myself?

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It's the beginning of the semester and that means half of the students on campus have decided that we are going to go back to the gym after their workout routine fell through last semester. It's been months since we've stepped foot in the gym, but we are ready to attack it and get fit. That is until we get there and start going.

1. How did I get to the gym? Didn't I walk here? That should count as exercise

2. Why am I here?

3. Are these clothes tighter than they were last time?

4. Why is every single machine full? What am I supposed to do?

5. Is everyone looking at me?

6. I can't remember where anything is here

7. Okay, I am going to set this at the easiest level

8. Can I go home yet?

9. Is 3 minutes long enough? No, darn it.

10. How many calories have I burned? Only 10 are you kidding me!

11. Why is everyone else here going so hard? I look like a slacker

12. I am so sweaty right now

13. Maybe I should get a smoothie as a reward for working out

14. I am literally dying right now. I am about to drop dead

15. Only 5 more minutes to go. I've got this!

16. I don't got this

17. Why do people come here every day?

18. Last minute I'm going to go so hard right now

19. Just kidding that two seconds was good enough. I'm going to cool down for the last 58

20. Hallelujah, praise Jesus, I am done!

21. I am so tired

22. My body is so sore

23. I can't believe I have to walk home now. I've already done my exercising for the day

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