The best thing Damon Albarn has done since the break-up of Blur is starting Gorillaz. While animated characters are the public face of the group, the music is the main and most important thing.
The two-CD set D-Sides offers the expected fare of unreleased tracks, outtakes, alternate/original demo versions and remixes. But these aren’t reheated leftovers. The tracks prove how spot-on Albarn, and main collaborator Danger Mouse, are at mixing moody electronic sounds, dark dub and pop.
The first CD kills. From the instrumental ode “68 State” through to the original cut of “Don’t Get Lost in Heaven” and “Stop the Dams,” this disc brings together an endless variety of soundscapes and vocal approaches. Tracks four and five, the spaced-out jam of “We Are Happy Landfill” and the sombre “Hong Kong,” make a good demonstrative pair.
CD Two offers remixes of Gorillaz’ hits “Dirty Harry” and “Feel Good, Inc.,” which features one of the best De La Soul rap appearances ever. Besides these rethinks, this disc explodes “Kids with Guns” into several wild new possibilities. This is only the third release from Gorillaz, and one can’t help but feel this is the last from the outfit. Albarn has already moved on to The Good, The Bad and The Queen and there’s been talk of a Blur reunion. Too bad.