Damon Albarn debuted “Mr. Tembo” from his upcoming solo record Everday Robots during a special performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! broadcasting from Austin for SXSW. A joyful, light cut anchored by a ukulele, “Mr. Tembo” soon bursts into a stomping boogie, with Albarn bouncing around on stage as a string section swells and cadre of back-up singers deliver dense, delightful harmonies.
Albarn also stuck around for a performance of “Lonely Press Play,” a previously released cut from Everyday Robots. The track functions as a musing on technology accompanied by a music video in which a digitally rendered skull is manipulated until it resembles the Blur and Gorillaz frontman. Everyday Robots will see release on April 29th and features contributions from Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes and Brian Eno
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Albarn explained the origins of “Mr. Tembo,” saying it was one of the 60 or so songs he gave producer and XL Records head Richard Russell. “[The song] was for a baby elephant I met in a place called Mkomazi, in Tanzania,” he said. “It was recently orphaned and walked onto this aerodrome; the people I know took it in and called it Mr. Tembo. I was there, and I met this little elephant, and he was very sweet. I sang it to him. It was recorded on a phone, and in a light-hearted moment, I put it on a list for Richard. He said, ‘I’d really like you to try that,’ so I did.”