When Damon Albarn takes over as DJ, surprises are sure to come: the Gorillaz leader filled in for host Dermot O’Leary on BBC Radio 2 over the weekend, interviewing Idris Alba from The Wire and the Clash‘s Paul Simonon. Albarn had another trick up his sleeve, too: he played the unreleased Gorillaz song “Whirlwind” on the airwaves.
The cinematic 90-second orchestral track sports tense, swooping strings and a Middle Eastern flair; according to Spin, Albarn connected with the Syrian National Orchestra in Damascus to record the song during the Plastic Beach sessions. Albarn said he’s lost touch with some of his Syrian collaborators amid the country’s turmoil. “I just hope they’re all alright,” he said as he played the song.