BLUR/GORILLAZ MAN DAMON ALBARN will release his first “conventional” solo album through Parlophone on April 28, and unveils a taster of its style in the shape of its haunting title track. Given a computer-animated treatment by the brilliantly-named visual artist Aitor Throup, Everyday Robots is something of a montage of Albarn tropes – mournful vocal, ethno-folky percussion, hip-hoppy riff, classical string figures – answering the question “what would a ‘real’ Albarn solo album sound like?” rather satisfyingly.
Aided and abetted by XL Records boss Richard Russell, with whom Albarn collaborated on the 2012 Bobby Womack solo album The Bravest Man In The Universe and the 2011 afro-remix LP Kinshasa One Two, the album was recorded at Albarn’s 13 Studios in West London last year. Brian Eno and Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan also appear.
Albarn’s first self-credited, full-release album of pop music follows the 2012 soundtrack to Rufus Norris’ Tudor-themed opera, Dr Dee, but is more in the spirit of the singer’s limited-edition vinyl/cassette release of 2003: Democrazy.
Albarn says it’s his most personal record yet, reflecting experiences from early childhood onwards, with a recurring theme of man and technology. One track – Mr Tembo, started as a kids’ song written for a baby elephant on a trip to Mkomazi in Tanzania.
Albarn will headline at Latitude Festival on Saturday July 19 2014 with a band including guitarist Seye, drummer Pauli The PSM, bassist Jeff Wootton and longtime musical director Mike Smith (Blur, Gorillaz, The Good, The Bad & The Queen) on keyboards.
The full tracklisting of Everyday Robots is…
1) Everyday Robots 2) Hostiles 3) Lonely Press Play 4) Mr Tembo 5) Parakeet 6) The Selfish Giant 7) You And Me 8) Hollow Ponds 9) Seven High 10) Photographs (You Are Taking Now) 11) The History Of A Cheating Heart 12) Heavy Seas Of Love
Damon portrait: Linda Brownlee