Gorillaz - Slowboat to Hades DVD

2006-12-04 09:59
Murdoc, 2D, Noodle and Russel claim to be the world’s biggest band. In one respect at least they may be – the live performances often feature them in giant projection, as demonstrated by the MTV Europe Music Awards performance of “Dirty Harry”, and a couple of others on this disc.

But that aspect, impressive by any other band’s standards, is just one little piece of the concept that is Gorillaz. Being a completely fictional band, they are in the unique position of literally controlling every aspect of their appearance. From live performances, to licensed shows like MTV Cribs, to mobile phone commercials to TV station links, Gorillaz do not appear unless the production unit itself produces the segment.

Take that MTV Cribs segment, or even a music award acceptance speech (Noodle delivers one to exact time requirement). All of these are produced to be painstakingly faithful to JC Hewlett’s designs and concepts.

There’s no doubting the pedigree of their music, either. 24.com’s reviewers agreed that Demon Days (2005) should have captured last year’s Grammy for Best Pop Album. The fact that it didn’t probably reflects the inability of pop music to understand the idea of Gorillaz as a concept… or most concepts, perhaps.

It’s a delicious conceit in a way; Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s outlandish idea has blossomed into a larger-than-pop-life success. But it wouldn’t be so without the indisputable genius that pervades Gorillaz’s flights of fancy.

Take a gawp at the spectacular hi-def video transfers of “Rockit”, “Feel Good Inc”, “Dare”, “Dirty Harry” and “El Manana” for start, and you’ll begin to realise what a spectacular risk Gorillaz is. Between demonic images, horror iconography, kids cartoonish slapstick, and arty-farty posturing, they don’t make it easy for you, but the result of all this crazy architecture is breathtaking and addictive.

Let’s talk about architecture for a minute. The architecture of the DVD is, once again, interesting, unique and challenging. It may be a bit irritating if you’re looking to get around the disc quickly, but – no, wait, they’ve predicted that. And you can get a full list of features from the panel in the lobby, which saves you from traversing the admittedly cool house in which the Gorillaz live.

Then there’s the inclusion of all manner of adverts (for mobile promotions, amongst other things), montages, an interview with Noodle (talking about “Dare”) and a myriad of other bits and bobs that sometimes defy definition – the “b-side” visuals are exactly that; near-static screens that screw with your brain – you’ll have to see it to believe it.

Of hilarious interest is Murdoc’s rip-off of The Queen’s speech (complete with “Hail Satan” overture), in which he dutifully declares James Blunt’s new release as the coming of the Apocalypse – “Who needs Valium?”.

The additional DVD Rom will feed your PC's need for games, wallpapers, screensavers and the like, and if you hunt around the DVD you’ll also discover a few hidden extras. All this will take up close to three hours of your time.

Slowboat to Hades is so far beyond pop, it’s a genuine artistic artefact in its own right. A definite fan buy for anything under R300.

- Anton Marshall

PS: Here’s a list of the items on the disc, just to give you an idea of how extensive this package is.

Feel Good Inc. (video & animatic)
DARE (video & animatic)
Dirty Harry (video & animatic)
El Mañana (video & animatic)
Rock It (video)
The Swagga
Bill Murray
Spitting Out The Demons
Kids With Guns (Demon Days Live visual)
Samba At 13
Murdoc Is God
Demon Days album ad
Demon Days Live DVD ad
Demon Days Live Manchester mash up
DARE Ringtone ad
GES mobile games trailer
Phase One: Celebrity Take Down DVD trailer
MTV Europe Music Awards performance
"Feel Up" live performance (2006 Grammy's mash up of "Feel Good Inc." with "Hung Up" by Madonna)
Brit Awards 2006 performance
El Mañana live in Harlem with 5.1 surround sound
Brit Awards rehearsals
Gorillaz Live in Harlem sting
Hip-Hop machine, Mexican Jailer, Fairground & Capsule Hotel idents

Many bands have come up with what they called ‘concept albums’. The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) is probably a fine example. But few (if any) bands have actually been concepts themselves – at least not to the degree that Gorillaz seem willing to go.

Annette Windrim 2006/12/04 8:35 AM
Slow boat to Hades Brilliant - thanks be to the gods that they feed us manna - all the mundane stuff out there - this is dew to the thirsty.
Wesley Watson 2006/12/05 1:00 PM
Let your mind scream YES. This review does little justice, it’s a must have!! Gorillaz fan or not. Jump around in your living room like you don’t care, music rattles around in your bones. Just get it. Ww.
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