Albarn is of, course, always playing with Gorillaz in the sense that he’s the mastermind behind the animated outfit’s music. But the Kimmel appearance actually placed him alongside Gorillaz singer 2-D so they could split vocal duties on “Aries.”
Despite not needing to — for obvious reasons — Albarn and 2-D delivered their performance over video chat to show they were practicing proper social-distancing protocol. While Albarn played in what looked like a cozy attic studio, 2-D phoned in from Gorillaz’s headquarters, where, in the background, a man in a towel and mask kept accidentally strolling into the frame, doing yoga and dancing, until realizing he was actually on camera.
Gorillaz released “Aries” in April as part of their ongoing Song Machine series, tapping New Order’s Peter Hook to provide bass on the studio version of the track. Along with “Aries,” the Song Machine series has included “Momentary Bliss” with Slowthai and Slaves, and “Deslole” with Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara. Gorillaz also recently shared, “How Far?” featuring Skepta and late Afrobeat legend Tony Allen, which was released in tribute to Allen days after his death.
Gorillaz launched Song Machine earlier this year with the aim of moving outside the constraints of a typical album cycle and releasing a smattering of songs and videos over the course of the year. Prior to the worldwide quarantine, Albarn said that he’d taped six episodes of Song Machine and hinted at future collaborations with artists like include Schoolboy Q and Tame Impala.