With the Blur reunion behind him, Damon Albarn is returning to his virtual side-project Gorillaz, recruiting Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed, the Bee Gees' Barry Gibb, Mos Def, and more for Plastic Beach, "the most pop record I've ever made," he said.
"[It's] sort of about the mythical aspects of Britain," Albarn told the Guardian of the album, the follow-up to 2005's multi-platinum-selling Demon Days, due next year via EMI. "Obviously, because it's Gorillaz we've moved it to a different place, but it still maintains a lot of that melancholy."
Albarn added that the album was also influenced by X Factor, Britain's equivalent of American Idol, which has altered his sense of "pop."
"I've tried to connect pop sensibility with trying to make people understand the essential melancholy of buying a ready-made meal in loads of plastic packaging... that detritus that accompanies the most essential thing in people's lives these days -- celebrity and voyeurism."
The album -- the title of which is a nod to the beach outside Albarn's home, which is littered with plastic bottles -- will also feature the Syrian National Orchestra. And while its famed roster of collaborators also includes Bobby Womack and Brit up-and-comers the Horrors, there's one famed musician not appearing on the album: Engelbert Humperdinck. "You win some and you lose some," Albarn admitted.
Gorillaz's Plastic Beach isn't the only project on Mr. Albarn's plate. The Brit star is also planning a new project with graphic novelist Alan Moore, on commission for the Royal Opera House, and is recording an album with Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, which is "nearly finished," Albarn said. "And I'd like to do another the Good, the Bad, and the Queen album if we get the chance, because we're all really good friends."
In conclusion: It's a good time to be a fan of all things Albarn.
Meanwhile, there's a new Blur documentary, titled No Distance Left to Run, set for worldwide release in January. Watch the trailer below.
Blur's No Distance Left to Run trailer: