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Gorillaz Celebrated Christmas With New Album

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As promised, at the stroke of Christmas midnight in the U.K., Gorillaz released their new album "The Fall" as a free download to fan club members and as a stream to the rest of us. "The Fall" was recorded entirely on frontman Damon Albarn's iPad while the band toured North America this past autumn, and it sounds like it: This freebie is packed with weirdo synths, experimental sounds and sporadic vocals.

It's never been clear how Albarn differentiates his many projects from one another -- whether the songs he writes are bound for Blur, Gorillaz or the Good, the Bad and the Queen -- and "The Fall" blurs the lines between these off-shoots further. We always defined Gorillaz as the Albarn project with cartoons and guest stars, and "The Fall" has neither. This album lacks the overall vision of the Gorillaz' previous three albums -- whereas the other albums are all-star affairs, only three big names (Bobby Womack and the Clash's Mick Jones and Paul Simonon) make appearances here -- but it's safe to assume that an iPad album recorded by Albarn is better than an iPad album recorded by the 99 percent of musicians who would attempt a similar feat.

The Amp hypothesized that this album would share a lot in common with the KLF's "Chill Out," another musical travelogue based on the sounds of the States, and we're happy to report we were correct. At one point, Albarn samples Glen Campbell's country hit "Wichita Linesman," a song that was previously name-checked in the KLF's "Wichita Lineman Was a Song I Once Heard."

Hghlights on "The Fall" -- and there are many to choose from on the album's 15-song track list -- include Womack's acoustic number "Bobby in Phoenix," "Revolving Doors" (the closest this album comes to this year's striking "Plastic Beach") and the atmospheric "Amarillo." Stream "The Fall" over at the Gorillaz site.

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