Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots

Damon Albarn - Photo Linda Brownlee

Damon Albarn – Photo Linda Brownlee

 

Everyday Robots Parlophone | CD DL LP

Damon Albarn takes a rare look inwards in his most reflective, traditional songwriting since the Blur era.

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FOR ONE OF ROCK’S MOST famous figures, and, with Noel and Liam, the classic face of ’90s Britpop, Damon Albarn still remains something of a puzzle. Such an extraordinary life, such a wealth of musical adventures, yet so many facets of the man have often felt veiled. His music, though stamped with his personality, has rarely dealt directly with the detail of his emotional life – though when he has diarised traumatic personal events, notably on Blur’s No Distance Left To Run, written in 1998 about the end of his relationship with Elastica’s Justine Frischmann, the results have possessed extraordinary power.

Albarn’s decision to retreat, post-Blur, from a life lived in the public gaze and to launch Gorillaz as a ‘cartoon group’ in 2001, behind which he could enjoy a protective semi-anonymity while still selling millions of records, has done little to bring the ‘real’ Damon any closer. Nor has his torrent of millennial side-adventures, exploring interesting musical avenues and fusions – the self-explanatory Mali Music (2002); The Good The Bad And The Queen album (2006); the soundtrack for the Chinese opera Monkey: Journey To The West (2011); the DRC-inspired Kinshasa One Two (2011); his Afro-beat/white funk jam Rocket Juice And The Moon(2012); the Dr Dee stage musical (2013); his Africa Express tour – but giving little of himself away.

Albarn, it seems, has been so busy investigating the world outside himself that he’s neglected – or maybe simply postponed – looking inwards. Until now, that is. But Everyday Robots is not quite what you’d expect, or even perhaps want, from a Damon solo record. It probably won’t tell you too much about him that you hadn’t guessed already. But it is rather good.

The cover of Everyday Robots shows the artist in desert boots and green mod parka, seated on a stool, head bowed, looking forlorn. It is, wittingly or not, the antithesis of Modern Life Is Rubbish’s cocky, faux-yob iconography. Its dour mood of reflective middle-aged melancholia isn’t something an initial foray into the album will dispel. The over-riding first impression is of quiet, tick-tock percussion, minimal thud-thud bass, tinkling piano, mournful strings and, high in the mix, Albarn’s wistful tenor unfolding another slow, hazy rumination on something yet to be fully understood by the listener. Only the joyful gospel lilt of Mr Tembo – a story about a baby elephant Albarn met in Africa – sticks out from the glassine mist. That, and last track Seven Seas Of Love, an unlikely ‘80s pop throwback that sounds a little like an acoustic Heaven 17 covering The Monkees’ Daydream Believer.

What’s abundantly clear is that Everyday Robots has no intention of coming to you; instead, its songs gently insist that you come to them. And patience and perseverance is bountifully rewarded.

 

 

 

 

Damon Albarn opens up about drug use

Damon Albarn

Damon Albarn

As Damon Albarn makes the rounds in support of his forthcoming solo debut, Everyday Robots, he’s speaking candidly about his past drug use.

In a new interview with Q magazine (via The Independent), Albarn said that he began using heroin “at the height of Britpop” and found it be “incredibly productive”.

“I hate talking about this because of my daughter, my family. But, for me, it was incredibly creative,” Albarn explained. “A combination of [heroin] and playing really simple, beautiful, repetitive shit in Africa changed me completely as a musician. I found a sense of rhythm. I somehow managed to break out of something with my voice.”

Albarn has been clean for several years and stressed that drugs are ”cruel, cruel thing.” He continued, “[Heroin] does turn you into a very isolated person and ultimately anything that you are truly dependent on is not good.”

Albarn also addresses his drug use on Everyday Robots, specifically in the song “You and Me”. Below, watch footage of him performing the song at this month’s BBC 6 Music Festival.

Setlist for Damon Albarn’s first solo performance, plus watch it in full

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On Friday night, Damon Albarn delivered his first live, public performance in support of his debut solo album Everyday Robots, appearing at BBC Radio 6 Music Festival in Manchester. Accomapnied by a full band, which he’s dubbed The Heavy Seas, Albarn performed six songs from Everyday Robots, as well as material from his various other projects.

Highlights included the live debut of Blur’s “All Your Life”, the world premiere of “The Selfish Giant”, “Mr. Tembo”, “Heavy Seas of Love”, which are set to appear on Everyday Robots, and performances of Gorillaz’s “On Melancholy Hill”, “Tomorrow Comes Today”, and “El Mañana”, and The Good, the Bad, and the Queen’s “Kingdom of Doom”.

Watch the full replay at BBC 6′s website. Below, you can watch his performance of set opener “Everyday Robots”.

Details of Damon Albarn’s long-awaited debut solo album have been revealed on Warner Music’s webstore. Entitled Everyday Robots, the 12-track effort will see release on April 29th. The album’s title track also serves as the lead single and is due out on March 3rd digitally and on 7-inch vinyl.

The album itself is available in a variety of configurations, including as an HD digital album and as a deluxe CD/DVD package featuring live performance footage from Fox studios in Los Angeles.

In an interview Rolling Stone late last year, Albarn described the album as a “sort of folk soul” that he made alongside longtime collaborator and XL Recordings head Richard Russell. “Richard does the rhythmic side, and I do everything else,” Albarn explained.

Update: According to Albarn’s Facebook page, the album also features Brian Eno and Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan are also featured on the album. It’s described as “his most soul-searching and autobiographical yet” and “explores nature versus technology.”

Below, you can preview a short snippet of “Everyday Robots” in a new trailer for the album. The album’s full tracklist and the single’s artwork follows.

Everyday Robots Tracklist:
01. Everyday Robots
02. Hostiles
03. Lonely Press Play
04. Mr Tembo
05. Parakeet
06.The Selfish Giant
07. You and Me
08. Hollow Ponds
09. Seven High
10. Photographs (You Are Taking Now)
11. The History Of A Cheating Heart
12. Heavy Seas Of Love

Everyday Robots DVD Tracklist:
01. Track x Track Video (Bundle Only)
02. Everyday Robots (live from Fox studios Los Angeles)
03. Hostiles (live from Fox studios Los Angeles)
04. Lonely Press Play (live from Fox studios Los Angeles)
05. Hollow Ponds (libe from Fox studios Los Angeles)

“Everyday Robots” single artwork: