Meet 2D, Noodle, Russel Hobbs and Murdoc Niccals -- also known as Gorillaz -- the first worldwide famous virtual band. Still going strong nearly 10 years after their animated selves were created, D-Sides is the second in a series of special releases. This double disc set includes B-sides, rarities and remixes -- redone versions of songs from the Demon Days album -- along with assorted previously unreleased tracks.
The Gorillaz were formed in 1998 by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett. They were subsequently joined by Del tha Funkee Homosapien and Dan the Automator but it wasn't until 2000 when they hit with the Tomorrow Comes Today EP that they came on in a big way. The addition of Miho Hatori as the voice of Noodle completed the cartoon and Gorillaz were immediately embraced as a "real band," not only by alternative rockers, but by the forward thinking hip-hop crowd as well. They've recorded three studio albums with one constant throughout: the guiding hand of Albarn.
Gorillaz specialize in a world citizen/mixed-genre sound. Sirens sound ominous under the disco beat of the instrumental, "68 State." "People" finds uber mixmaster, Danger Mouse, sitting in on drums. The exclusive version of "Hong Kong" included here has the sound of a Chinese zither fuelling its mysterious mood. "Rockit" uses a Euro/techno track to make its chilly impact.
"Stop The Dams" is a lyrically intensive tune, made to help draw attention to environmental issues in Iceland. Gorillaz are accompanied here by Einar Orn, formerly of the Sugarcubes, and his new band, Ghostigital.
Three remixes of "Kids With Guns," featuring Neneh Cherry on vocals, are included: The "Jamie T's Turn To Monsters Mix" has an old time music flair. The "Hot Chip Remix" is dreamy and music-box-like, while the "Quiet Village Remix" is more exotic and tribal in its tone. For the remixed "Dare," Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays takes the mic, and quite suitably too, as it's a pulsing, Madchester track. The "Soulwax Remix" of the same track is electro beat while the "Junior Sanchez Remix" has a slight funkiness to it.
The version of "Dirty Harry (Chinese New Year Remix)" features a host of Chinese musicians, including a Chinese children's choir.
Gorillaz are full of surprises. Rather than releasing a rehash of old tracks, D-Sides sounds hot, fresh, completely new and perfect for our contemporary reality -- virtually and literally.
By Daisy Duarte