Posted in Electronic, Female Vocalist, Pop by Giri Nathan on August 26, 2010

In an album chock full of gold, the coolest track often lies unnoticed. Amidst all the perfect pop songs on Gorillaz’ Plastic Beach, and amidst all the high-profile cameos — from Snoop Dogg to Lou Reed — it’s easy to lose sight of the best one.

Gorillaz – Empire Ants feat. Little Dragon

What makes this song so striking is the unexpected metamorphosis halfway through. It’s two totally different songs smacked together, glued to one another with just a little crossfade — and somehow it all works. Starts with a swaying, islandy breeze and Damon Albarn singing pleasantly but sort of forgettably. Then out of nowhere, the temperature drops several hundred degrees and some club-worthy synths slink into the mix like a lynx. All of a sudden it’s a streamlined and shadowy and chromed-out beat, like something out of a car commercial if car commercials were fucking awesome. The guest appearance is Little Dragon, a Swedish band that works this electronic masterpiece like only the Swedish can [see: The Knife].  I would have trouble believing that frontwoman Yukimi Nagano is human, or that she is comprised of solid matter. She sings in clouds: her voice is less a concentrated discrete “voice” than a lazy vocal haze drifting in and out of the track at whim. Her cadence is crazy and unreadable as she sings over her own echoes, a spectral overlap effect that Albarn probably cooked up just like he cooked up every gorgeous little detail on this album. He is a genius.

Anyway, the two halves of the track meld together perfectly, and the end result is a full day on the (plastic) beach: sunny coconut sipping by day and some kind of super-sleek-chic dance party by night. The sun sets at 2:15 in this song.

If you, like me, couldn’t get that voice out of your head, here is some more Little Dragon for you. Featuring snails

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3 Responses

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  1. jurbanik said, on August 27, 2010 at 12:30 am

    Dude, just listened to this song 4 times in a row now. I might have the album on repeat for a while tomorrow.

  2. Gaz@NokiaMusic said, on August 28, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Great track, but I certainly wouldn’t say it goes by unnoticed. Whenever I discuss the album with anyone it’s usually the first track that comes up. Though it’s fair to say it may only be the circles I move in.

    Both her performances on Plastic Beach do exceed all others on the album in my opinion too. She’s truly captivating. I was only partial to “to Binge” until I saw them at Glasto and the moment her Albarn shared. I caught an awesome snap of them together over here

    • jurbanik said, on August 31, 2010 at 6:11 am

      Hey Gaz,

      Thanks for the awesome photo. While it is certainly true that those who are pretty avid listeners of music would recognize the track as one of the better ones, just looking at the stats on tells me that it is in the middle of the pack in terms of popularity. In general, m&i is intended to help our friends listen to better music – I think giri was under the opinion that they might be caught up by the sounds of Pirate Jet, On Melancholy Hill, or Rhinestone Eyes and forget about this track. Regardless, sick photo – which I could’ve been there, nevermind that close to the stage.


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