Despite long-standing rumors of an impending hiatus, Gorillaz returned to the airwaves at the top of 2020 a collaborative project called Song Machine. Worries among their fanbase about the fate of this new endeavor began circulating with the global arrival of COVID-19, which has already bred widespread behavioral change and adaptation to a new lifestyle. However, according a heartfelt message from the (virtual) band, not only will Song Machine continue, but “we shall ride out the storm.”
Similar to the rest of Gorillaz work, Song Machine combines audio and visual elements in addition to a multichromatic pallette of special guests. The first song “Momentary Bliss” was a jol mix of UK styles featuring Northampton native, slowthai, and Kent’s own Slaves. Damon Albarn reconnected with Fatoumata Diawara for the second installment, resulting in a mellow, yet forward-moving serenade called “Désolé.“
Both songs were also accompanied by a music video that departed from the traditional Gorillaz aesthetic. Where previous videos fully enveloped viewers in the animated universe formulated by Albarn and the band’s resident artist Jamie Hewlett, the two Song Machine videos saw virtual members 2D, Murdoc, Noodle, and Russell exist alongside Albarn and the guest artists in the real world.
Just as Song Machine was about to commence a new chapter for Gorillaz, though, the world was struck with COVID-19 and a worldwide span of social distancing and “shelter in place” mandates.