The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tim McNa­mara

Hu­manz Go­ril­laz Par­lophone The world’s most suc­cess­ful vir­tual band has never shied from max­imis­ing its com­mer­cial ap­peal. When Blur’s Da­mon Al­barn com­bined his song­writ­ing chops and col­lab­o­ra­tive nous with Jamie Hewlett’s iconic de­signs for Noo­dle, 2D, Mur­doc and Rus­sel around 1998, the duo cre­ated the per­fect band.

Al­barn and Hewlett have been free to spruik their wares in a va­ri­ety of ways, team­ing Noo­dle with Jaguar Rac­ing, for ex­am­ple, re­leas­ing a Go­ril­laz-branded range of Con­verse shoes and most re­cently launch­ing a mixed re­al­ity app and De­mon Dayz mu­sic fes­ti­val.

All this cross-pro­mo­tion is de­pen­dent on the mu­sic con­tin­u­ing to con­nect. It has been seven years since the world-beat­ing, guestheavy Plas­tic Beach and slightly less since the more ex­per­i­men­tal, on-the-road pro­duced The Fall. Hu­manz is more Plas­tic Beach than The Fall.

Al­barn has again en­listed a di­verse ros­ter of col­lab­o­ra­tors rep­re­sent­ing ev­ery­thing from Chicago house to hip-hop, pop and reg­gae. Strung to­gether by short, largely non­sen­si­cal in­ter­ludes voiced by Aus­tralian ac­tor Ben Men­del­sohn, Hu­manz doesn’t take it­self too se­ri­ously.

Rap­per Vince Sta­ples’s warn­ing on opener As­cen­sion that “The sky is fall­ing baby drop that ass ‘fore it crash” chan­nels Al­barn’s con­cep­tu­al­i­sa­tion of the al­bum as a “party for the end of the world”, re­port­edly us­ing Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion win as in­spi­ra­tion. Kelela’s bliss­ful vo­cal on top of a bumpy bassline on the mel­low Sub­mis­sion con­trasts nicely with Danny Brown’s in-your-face rap that fol­lows, while there’s a build­ing in­ten­sity to the dis­torted rock cruncher Charger, as Grace Jones laughs “I’m gonna take you for a ride” over grind­ing gui­tar and Al­barn’s vo­cal. An­dromeda is a stand­out, a glo­ri­ous midtempo, bass-heavy house groove re­plete with del­i­cate vo­cal from Al­barn. Reg­u­lar col­lab­o­ra­tor De La Soul of­fers a play­ful rap over a thundering beat on the fre­netic Mo­mentz, while gospel leg­end Mavis Sta­ples links with Pusha T and Al­barn for the more omi­nous Let Me Out.

Else­where, Chicago vo­cal­ist Peven Everett is in fine form on the party jam Stro­belite, while fel­low Chicago na­tive and house mu­sic pi­o­neer Jamie Prin­ci­ple links with Ze­bra Katz on Sex Mur­der Party, one of a few more for­get­table num­bers to­wards the back end.

In poignant fash­ion, Al­barn’s one-time ri­val, Oa­sis’s Noel Gal­lagher, pro­vides back­ground vo­cals along­side Jehnny Beth on the eu­phoric al­bum closer We Got the Power.

With Hewlett re­cently re­veal­ing plans for a Go­ril­laz cloth­ing line and tele­vi­sion show, it seems there’s no limit to the vir­tual group’s mar­ket­ing po­ten­tial, which is OK be­cause, on Hu­manz, Go­ril­laz has de­liv­ered the goods in chaotic, genre-bend­ing style.

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