Producing, creating and goosing hip hop and indie rock in equal measure, Dan Nakamura (aka “The Automator”) has worked with and around DJ Shadow, Kool Keith, Prince Paul, JSBX, Kid Koala and Del The Funkee Homosapien. His last project, Deltron 3030, with Del, Koala and himself, as well as cameos by Damon Albarn and Paul Barman, was an apocalyptic, sci-fi-hip-hop galactic spectacular, which scaled the heights of current musico-political thought while destroying and re-creating brains and asses in the process.
Now Nakamura has taken his genre-bending genius and essential beat awareness to the Gorillaz, combining the talents of the Deltron crew with Blur’s Damon Albarn in what easily could be the British singer’s first solo record (he’s featured on almost all 17 tracks). And though I don’t want to come off as an apologist for MTV2, the rising comsumhip portal that has celebrated “Clint Eastwood,” the Gorillaz’s waltzing second single, Nakamura’s unified crossover genius is just too strong to ignore.
Whether it’s the deadpan guitar riffs and scratches of “5/4” (“She made me kill myself/Come on”), the bouncy-ball dubbing of “Man Research” (“ya ya ya ya ya ya ya yeah ya”) or the slamming funk-wrong of “M1A1,” Nakamura and his friends, with the bored lyrical-vocal talent of Albarn in toe, run/ruin genres, concepts and beats together with aplomb. Even the reformatted cameo of Ibrahim Ferrer on “Latin Simone (Que Pasa Contigo)” fits among the reverie and musical violence of the Gorillaz assault.
As the record ends with “Left Hand Suzuki Method,” a fictional violin student attempts a chorale and shaker melody over heavy beats, angry bass and Miho Hatori’s (Cibo Matto) helpful recommendations for better technique. With this, it is clear that the Asian-led Gorillaz have blasted the walls off both genre and stereotype.
Carleton S. Gholz writes about music for the Metro Times. E-Mail [email protected].