The first video from Damon Albarn's upcoming solo album shows a deep understanding of the project-hopping British artist's work — and in a way that should still resonate regardless of how familiar you are with Blur, Gorillaz, the Good, the Bad & the Queen, or Albarn's many other outings. Whether tapping into the Kinks' pastoral England at the height of '90s Britpop, updating a 16th-century Chinese folk tale for Monkey: Journey to the West, or delving into the life of an Elizabethan doctor-slash-magician for Dr Dee, Albarn has long merged deep-seated traditions with contemporary technologies and perspectives. That contradiction is potently on display in the clip for "Everyday Robots," the title track from Albarn's first proper solo album.
The video sets a digital deconstruction and reconstruction of Albarn's head behind the song's laconic observations about a permanently plugged-in culture. With not only strings and keyboard but also burbling electronics and non-Western flutters, the song is a stirring addition to a catalog of subdued stunners like Gorillaz' "On Melancholy Hill" or Bobby Womack's "Please Forgive My Heart" (which Albarn co-produced). As the project's creative director Aitor Throup explains in the video below, via Dazed, the clip aims to represent Albarn as a solo artist — it's just his mug, after all — but also the underlying theme of the interplay "between nature and technology."
The clip takes something so intimate and basic to Albarn — his skull, muscles, and skin — and renders them through CGI software and cranial scans. Or you could say: The "Song 2" man got his head checked, and it wasn't easy, but nothing is.
XL Recordings' Richard Russell, who produced Womack's The Bravest Man in the Universe with Albarn, handles production on Everyday Robots. Brian Eno and Bat for Lashes' Natasha Khan appear as guests. According to a press release, the songs tackle more personal subjects than in Albarn's previous work, taking inspiration from throughout the singer's life. Everyday Robots is out in the U.S. on April 29 via Warner Bros., and Albarn previewed the material at the Sundance Film Festival.
Everyday Robots track list:
1. "Everyday Robots"
3. "Lonely Press Play"
4. "Mr Tembo"
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"