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Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez (often shortened to Song Machine Season One) is the seventh studio album by British virtual band Gorillaz. It was released released on 23 October 2020[1] as part of Gorillaz' Song Machine project, a collection of singles and music videos, dubbed 'episodes', each featuring previously unannounced guests, which incorporated a wide range of musical genres and styles. The album also marked the return of bassist Murdoc Niccals since his absence from The Now Now in 2018.

In total, the album spawned ten singles, most of which were released alongside their respective episodes: Momentary Bliss, Désolé, Aries, How Far? (the one exception), Friday 13th, PAC-MAN, Strange Timez, The Pink Phantom, The Valley of the Pagans and The Lost Chord).

Background, Recording and Production[]

It's one of the best albums I've ever made. It’s really strong because every tune has that single intention to it. To make an album of singles is such a rigorous pursuit you don't normally do it – but accidentally, we have.
~ Damon Albarn

Song Machine began production in summer of 2019, with Momentary Bliss being the first single and episode produced. The Song Machine tracks eventually became an album, but this was not Albarn and Hewlett's original intention and they initially wanted Song Machine to be an episodic series of singles. Older guest artists were mainly chosen by Albarn and Hewlett and younger guests were chosen by Gorillaz' drummer Remi Kabaka Jr. The songs up to Pac-Man were made in Studio 13 at different times, independently from each other.

Song Machine's production was greatly affected by the Covid-19W pandemic, with work on the series continuing to be done remotely through e-mails and Zoom sessions. Strange Timez was the first song and episode made during lockdown. Damon stated that tracks like The Pink Phantom or MLS were mainly shaped by the remote production and couldn't have possibly been made the same way in a studio. Approximately half of the album was recorded after the pandemic started.

Chart Positions[]

Upon its release, Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez peaked at number 2 on the UK Albums Chart and 12 on the US Billboard 200, and received generally positive reviews from critics.

  • Momentary Bliss - US Hot Rock & Alternative Song #3
  • Aries - US Hot Rock & Alternative Song #13
  • Momentary Bliss - UK Singles Chart #58
  • Momentary Bliss - Ultratop 50 Flanders #29
  • Désolé - Ultratop 50 Flanders #34
  • Aries - Ultratop 50 Flanders #42

Tracklist[]

Standard Edition
No. Title Length
1. 'Strange Timez' (feat. Robert Smith) 3:47
2. 'The Valley Of The Pagans' (feat. Beck) 3:00
3. 'The Lost Chord' (feat. Leee John) 4:03
4. 'Pac-Man' (feat. ScHoolboy Q) 3:12
5. 'Chalk Tablet Towers' (feat. St. Vincent) 3:02
6. 'The Pink Phantom' (feat. Elton John & 6LACK) 4:12
7. 'Aries' (feat. Peter Hook & Georgia) 4:13
8. 'Friday 13th' (feat. Octavian) 3:35
9. 'Dead Butterflies' (feat. Kano & Roxani Arias) 4:33
10. 'Désolé (Extended Version)' (feat. Fatoumata Diawara) 5:33
11. 'Momentary Bliss' (feat. slowthai & Slaves) 3:41
Total length:
42:53
Deluxe Edition
No. Title Length
12. 'Opium' (feat. EarthGang) 6:50
13. 'Simplicity' (feat. Joan As Police Woman) 2:44
14. 'Severed Head' (feat. GoldLink & Unknown Mortal Orchestra) 3:34
15. 'With Love To An Ex' (feat. Moonchild Sanelly) 3:01
16. 'MLS' (feat. JPEGMafia & CHAI) 3:12
17. 'How Far?' (feat. Tony Allen & Skepta) 2:46
18. 'Taxi Back To 80s Reykjavik' (Bonus Track) 2:42
Total length:
67:42

Casette Tracklists[]

Main Article: Song Machine Cassette Tapes

Personnel[]

Gorillaz[]

Musicians[]

  • Damon Albarn - vocals ("Strange Timez", "The Valley of the Pagans", "The Lost Chord", "PAC-MAN", "Chalk Tablet Towers", "The Pink Phantom", "Aries", "Friday 13th", "Dead Butterflies", "Désolé", "Momentary Bliss", "Opium", "Simplicity", "Severed Head", "MLS"), keyboards ("Strange Timez", "The Valley of the Pagans", "The Lost Chord", "PAC-MAN", "Chalk Tablet Towers", "The Pink Phantom", "Friday 13th", "Dead Butterflies", "Désolé", "Opium", "Simplicity", "Severed Head", "With Love to an EX", "MLS", "How Far?", "Taxi Back to 80s Reykjavik"), bass ("The Valley of the Pagans", "The Lost Chord", "Chalk Tablet Towers", "The Pink Phantom", "Friday 13th", "Désolé", "Simplicity", "Severed Head", "Taxi Back to 80s Reykjavik"), guitar ("The Valley of the Pagans", "PAC-MAN", "Chalk Tablet Towers", "Aries", "Friday 13th", "Désolé", "Momentary Bliss", "Opium", "Simplicity", "Severed Head", "MLS", "How Far?", "Taxi Back to 80s Reykjavik"), drum programming ("The Valley of the Pagans", "Désolé (Extended Version)", "MLS"), synthesizer ("PAC-MAN", "Aries"), backing vocals, drums, percussion ("PAC-MAN"), piano ("The Pink Phantom", "Opium"), melodica ("MLS"–"How Far?")
  • Remi Kabaka Jr. - drum programming ("Strange Timez","The Valley of the Pagans", "Chalk Tablet Towers", "The Pink Phantom", "Aries", "Friday 13th", "Dead Butterflies", "Momentary Bliss", "Opium", "Simplicity", "Severed Head", "With Love to an EX", "MLS"), percussion ("Strange Timez", "The Lost Chord", "PAC-MAN", "Chalk Tablet Towers", "Aries", "Désolé", "Opium", "Simplicity", "With Love to an EX", "How Far?"), drums ("The Lost Chord", "PAC-MAN", "Aries")
  • Robert Smith - vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass guitar, music box ("Strange Timez")
  • Etta Albarn Teulon - trumpet ("Strange Timez"), additional vocals ("Opium")
  • Beck - vocals ("The Valley of the Pagans")
  • Rudy Albarn - drums ("The Valley of the Pagans", "Taxi Back to 80s Reykjavik"), percussion ("The Valley of the Pagans")
  • Leee John - vocals ("The Lost Chord")
  • James Ford - drums, percussion ("The Lost Chord", "Aries", "Désolé"), keyboards ("The Lost Chord", "Désolé"), guitar ("The Lost Chord"), synthesizer, drum programming ("Aries"), balafon, zither ("Désolé")
  • Schoolboy Q - vocals ("PAC-MAN")
  • Prince Paul - backing vocals ("PAC-MAN")
  • John Smythe - guitar ("PAC-MAN")
  • Weathrman - bass, keyboards, synthesizer ("PAC-MAN")
  • St. Vincent - vocals, keyboards ("Chalk Tablet Towers")
  • Elton John - vocals, piano ("The Pink Phantom")
  • 6lack - vocals ("The Pink Phantom")
  • Peter Hook - bass ("Aries")
  • Georgia - drums, percussion ("Aries")
  • P2J - drum programming ("Aries", "Opium")
  • Octavian - vocals ("Friday 13th")
  • Kano - vocals ("Dead Butterflies")
  • Roxani Arias - vocals ("Dead Butterflies")
  • Mike Will Made It - drum programming ("Dead Butterflies")
  • Fatoumata Diawara - vocals ("Désolé")
  • Voice Messengers - backing vocals ("Désolé")
    • Sylvain Bellegarde
    • Emmanuel Laniece
    • Augustin Ledieu
    • Vanina de Franco
    • Neima Naouri
  • Demon Strings
    • Alice Pratley - violin ("Désolé")
    • Ciara Ismail - violin ("Désolé", "How Far?")
    • Davide Rossi - strings, string arranger ("Désolé")
    • Izzi Dunn - cello ("Désolé", "How Far?")
    • Nicola Hicks - viola ("Désolé")
    • Kotono Sato - violin ("How Far?")
    • Stella Page - viola ("How Far?")
  • Sébastien Blanchon - horn ("Désolé")
  • Slowthai - vocals ("Momentary Bliss")
  • Slaves - vocals, guitar, drums ("Momentary Bliss")
  • Mike Dean - drum programming ("Momentary Bliss")
  • EarthGang - vocals ("Opium")
  • Roberto Fonseca - piano ("Opium")
  • Joan As Police Woman - vocals, erhu, guitar, keyboards, upright bass ("Simplicity")
  • GoldLink - vocals ("Severed Head")
  • Unknown Mortal Orchestra - vocals, bells ("Severed Head")
  • Moonchild Sanelly - vocals ("With Love to an EX")
  • JPEGMafia - vocals ("MLS")
  • CHAI - vocals, keyboards, drums ("MLS")
  • Tony Allen - vocals, drums ("How Far?")
  • Skepta - vocals ("How Far?")

Technical[]

  • Damon Albarn - production
  • Remi Kabaka Jr. - production
  • Stephen Sedgwick - mixing (all), engineering ("Strange Timez", "The Valley of the Pagans", "The Lost Chord", "PAC-MAN", "The Pink Phantom", "Aries", "Friday 13th", "Dead Butterflies", "Désolé", "Momentary Bliss", "Opium", "Simplicity", "Severed Head", "With Love to an EX", "MLS", "How Far?", "Taxi Back to 80s Reykjavik")
  • John Davis - mastering ("Strange Timez", "The Valley of the Pagans", "The Lost Chord", "PAC-MAN", "Chalk Tablet Towers", "The Pink Phantom", "Aries", "Friday 13th", "Dead Butterflies", "Désolé", "Momentary Bliss", "Opium", "Severed Head", "With Love to an EX", "MLS", "How Far?", "Taxi Back to 80s Reykjavik")
  • Samuel Egglenton - engineering ("Strange Timez", "The Valley of the Pagans", "The Lost Chord", "PAC-MAN", "Chalk Tablet Towers", "The Pink Phantom", "Aries", "Friday 13th", "Dead Butterflies", "Désolé", "Momentary Bliss", "Opium", "Simplicity", "Severed Head", "MLS", "How Far?", "Taxi Back to 80s Reykjavik")
  • Robert Smith - production ("Strange Timez")
  • David Greenbaum - engineering ("The Valley of the Pagans")
  • Dylan Herman - engineering ("The Valley of the Pagans")
  • James Ford - production ("The Lost Chord", "Aries", "Désolé")
  • Elvin "Wit" Shahbazian - engineering ("PAC-MAN")
  • Prince Paul - production, engineering ("PAC-MAN")
  • St. Vincent - engineering ("Chalk Tablet Towers")
  • 6lack - engineering ("The Pink Phantom")
  • Matt Doughty - engineering ("The Pink Phantom")
  • P2J - additional production ("Aries", "Opium")
  • Mike Will Made It - production ("Dead Butterflies")
  • Marzeratti - production ("Dead Butterflies")
  • Darryle "Rell" Gayle - engineering ("Dead Butterflies")
  • Adrien Libmann - engineering ("Désolé")
  • Andrea Fognini - engineering ("Désolé")
  • Davide Lasala - engineering ("Désolé")
  • Sylvain Mercier - engineering ("Désolé")
  • Nora Fedrigo - engineering ("Désolé")
  • Mike Dean - co-production ("Momentary Bliss")
  • Raul Chirinos - engineering ("Opium")
  • Joan As Police Woman - production ("Simplicity")
  • Ruban Nielson - engineering ("Severed Head")
  • Osamu Shu Imamoto - engineering ("MLS")
  • Stuart Lowbridge - track sequencing

Artwork[]

Gallery[]

Song Machine Season One Strange Timez Désolé Cover PAC-MAN
The full image gallery for Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez may be viewed at Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez/Gallery.

Trivia[]

  • The standard version of Désolé is not actually on the Song Machine, Season One itself, despite being released as a single from the album; the extended version of the song is present instead.
  • The booklet for the standard version of the album's CD includes the picture of Tony Allen with the band members used on the cover art for How Far?, in spite of the song not being present on this version of the album.
  • Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez is Gorillaz' first album to have its Japanese-exclusive track available on streaming platforms in Japan but not internationally.

References[]

  1. Gorillaz. "Gorillaz Presents Song Machine, Season One CD". Gorillaz.com. Retrieved 14 September 2020.

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