Album Reviews

Damon Albarn – Democrazy

(Gorillaz) UK release date: 8 December 2003


It’s usually a sign of trouble when a member of asuccessful band decides to veer off from the safety ofRock’s Lost Highway, to have a wander down the B-roadof “and-this-is-me” solo action.

While Damon is nostranger to working outside the Blur unit – Gorillaz, Mali Music and several soundtracks show that already -this album is not quite what you’d expect from the frontman of aband at the top of its game.

Democrazy is not to be confused with anything as such as a solodebut album – if it was then I’m sure the public might at least know about it!Instead, it is released on Damon’s own Honest Jonsimprint, and, oh, to make it even more of an outsidebet for giving Dido sleepless nights about chart placings, it is limited to5000 10″ double vinyl copies, and is onlyavailable from selected record emporia too.

In other words, it couldn’t be more of an investment for a future eBaymillion if it was gold-plated and signed personallyby its creator.

But what is it like? Well, it’s completely opposite to thefull-on joy of some of Albarn’s best-est creations. Thetunes and moments – and they are moments, with some lastingless than a minute – are the roughsketches that Damon was playing about with in hishotel room while Blur were doing the day job on theirAmerican tour earlier this year.

The exciting thing about Democrazy is that itdismantles Albarn’s songwriting process. Some of thesetunes, such as the splendid Half A Song and Five StarLife, could become future Blur or Gorillaz classics.It’s warm to know this was how the likes of Beetlebum,Clint Eastwood and This Is A Low probably started out.

Damon drones, croons and murmurs hungover-ly, using the sort ofminimal keyboards last considered futuristic back in1981, along with, who knows, percussion from theminibar, and some tell-tale melodica. This is as no-fias possible but if you enter into the spirit of it,and don’t expect Pro Tools and other hi-tech space gubbins,then Democrazy can be rewarding.

So, Democrazy may not a solo album, but provided you can find a copy, it is a little extra something to put in every switched-on Blur fan’s stocking this year.


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