January 15, 2009 at 12:00 PM EST

And here we fans of musical impresario Damon Albarn thought we were lucky when we heard his late, lamented band Blur was getting back together. This week brought even better news: Albarn is well underway on a new album from his other project, Gorillaz, which was also supposed to be very much done for good! Albarn’s generous mood even had him dropping by BBC Radio 1 to play a few demos from the next Gorillaz set. One of them, “Broken” (below), features vocals and deserves to be polished up and released as a single ASAP. You can check out the other two demos over at Stereogum, which kindly nabbed streaming versions; they’re in more rudimentary shape, but I’m digging them as outlines.

So what does all this simultaneous Albarn-related activity mean? Who knows, but I wonder if he might be looking to separate out his musical personalities a bit this year. These demos feel like a logical extension of the hazy textures and swaying beats explored on 2001’s Gorillaz and 2005’s Demon Days: classic Gorillaz. Maybe when Albarn and his bandmates get started on a Blur album, he’ll want to take it in a different direction, back toward the tuneful guitar pop that got them started in the ’90s. Or maybe not! For all we know the new Gorillaz album and the new Blur album could both wind up sounding like the contemplative dub/Afro-pop of his 2007 The Good, the Bad & the Queen project…or like the Mandarin Chinese opera he worked on last year…or something else entirely. Damon Albarn is nothing if not multifaceted, and he’s rarely predictable. Anyone else looking forward to seeing which side(s) he decides to show us this year, in any and all of his personas?

More on Gorillaz, Blur, and the rest:
EW hung out with Albarn, Danger Mouse, and Gorillaz co-creator Jamie Hewlett in 2005
EW reviewed a 2006 Gorillaz concert
Blur reunites: YES!
EW gave Demon Days a B review

You May Like