Blur frontman Damon Albarn has been extremely prolific in the past twenty-three years. With his band Blur, he has released seven studio albums (with an eighth in the wings), four albums as the mastermind behind Gorillaz, and a variety of film and theater soundtracks. He has never released a proper solo album, but that will change next year.
In anticipation, he has released a new two minute teaser to hype his new record. The video splices together live and in-studio footage with music videos, creating a dizzying sonic pastiche of his musical achievements, from Britpop darlings Blur through virtual band Gorillaz to the British supergroup, The Good, The Bad & The Queen. His extensive soundtrack work is touched upon, as are his operas Dr. Dee and Monkey: Journey To The West, as well as his forays into global music with Mali Music and his most current project, Africa Express.
As the compilation continues its build-up, it ends with about twenty seconds of unidentified music — presumably a preview from the as-yet-untitled solo album. If so, it doesn’t tell us much with its barely-there piano floating over a faint electronic pulse. This video collage serves as a reminder of the huge musical contribution Albarn has made in the past twenty-odd years and how essential his upcoming solo effort will be to his vast musical catalogue.
While his Blur bandmate, Graham Coxon, has released eight solo albums since 1998 — several coinciding with the time he played guitar in the band — this will be Damon Albarn’s first solo album. While it may seem surprising that it took this long to see an official Damon Albarn release, the teaser reminds us of how busy the musician been since the early 1990s.Albarn discussed his solo album with Rolling Stone in May. He revealed then that he was working with producer and co-founder of XL Records, Richard Russell. ‘Making a solo record can be such a disaster, so I thought that if we’re going to make a record with my name on it, I should get someone to really produce it — take that responsibility away from myself…Richard does the rhythmic side and I do everything else.’ He described the resulting sessions as ‘folk soul.’
Albarn also announced that he plans to tour after the release of his solo album and that the performances will be a mixture of his past projects, including songs from Blur, Gorillaz, and The Good, The Bad & The Queen. Work on Blur’s long-awaited eighth album will commence following the solo album.