The world’s most heralded virtual act is building onto its global musical empire with the release of Humanz. Once again, Gorillaz deliver a thumping record paired with artwork in the signature style of co-founder and cartoonist Jamie Hewlett—recently released on their Instagram account. The four quirky, monstrous characters making up the group were brought to life back in 2001 with the release of their self-titled debut album. Since then, the four figureheads have risen to global stardom and have subsequently graced the magazine covers of Rolling Stone and Dazed, amongst others. In anticipation of the band’s audiovisual Amsterdam appearance this week, made possible by Sonos, we take a good look back on their wonderful work.
The illustrative hand of Jamie Hewlett, who designs most of the band’s artwork, digital animations and immersive interactive visuals, originally created the cheeky imaginary quartet and its holographic visuals with the intent of lifting listeners into a realm of surrealistic delight where the band’s existence is felt both spiritually and physically. Over the years, the brash cartoon figureheads—a combination of zombie and hip-hop influences—have become perfectly ingrained in our (imaginary) depictions of the band, each evolving over time in line with their sound. With the release of Humanz, 2D, Noodle, Russel and Murdoc have been graphically enhanced again, making them feel more alive than ever before as the visuals become more realistic and refined. From full-fledged cartoons, gritty images and surrealistic depictions of the band placed in front of realistic images to immersive 3D digital animations; the visuals have been innovative at best.
The frighteningly delightful music and imagery never seem to tether onto one specific era; they are influenced by the times but never set in stone. Time after time, the creative masterminds behind the eponymous cult band are able to keep it all refreshing, never falling short in delivering groundbreaking content to lose ourselves in. Delving into Gorillaz’ musical archives, we’re gifted panoramic musical content made up of banging tracks; just think of Clint Eastwood, Demon Days and DARE. Especially well received was Feel Good Inc. (2005), which won a Grammy Award. Speaking of the Grammies, who doesn’t remember their audacious duet with Madonna in 2006? To top it all off, Gorillaz have now released a 360-degree, interactive music video accompanying their new track Saturn Burnz.
Fantasizing about the future of the band, the pop geniuses themselves amusingly talk about Gorillaz eventually becoming so real that their creative input will no longer be needed. Who knows? The future might be a fully programmed one; something we are all allowed to ponder on Humanz. Stream the full album here and don’t miss out on Gorillaz’ Spirit House at De School this coming Saturday.