Thursday, August 04, 2022

Gorillaz And Thundercat Groove In The Nightmarish ‘Cracker Island’ Video

Few artists have their fans not only eagerly anticipating new music, but also the accompanying visuals. 

With the release of the video for ‘Cracker Island’, two of those artists – virtual band Gorillaz and bassist Thundercat – combine, juxtaposing the now three-dimensional façade for Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s project with the real-life Thundercat in a grimy hospital scene.  

The video perfectly matches the track’s drunken feel with Albarn’s lazily delivered vocals and off-beat synth stabs, as it opens immediately with virtual vocalist 2-D clearly under the influence in the back of a police car. His head lolling about as he “sings”, he is transported to a hospital where fellow animated bandmates Russel Hobbs and Noodle are waiting, the former staring gormlessly at TV static and the latter being interrogated by officers. Adding to the intoxicating feel of the track and video, Thundercat appears as a hallucination, playing his bass surrounded by a gleaming, colourful aura. Beginning in miniature form as an action figure come to life, the bassist grows in size and appears around 2-D, until he is batted away sloppily by the handcuffed character. Less than a minute in, and the video already feels more like a fever dream than anything else.  


The most surreal is yet to come, however. Demon-like characters begin to form around the band’s features and in the TV static, a bedsheet ghost begins to float through the hospital corridors, whilst 2-D begins to see every single nurse and officer with Thundercat’s head, iridescent glow and all. A brief respite from the psychedelic chaos is found during the bassist’s solo sections, as it focuses on his fretting hand from a low angle, really emphasising the groove and swagger of the track.  


The video’s narrative comes to a close as the only band member absent up to this point, Murdoc Niccals, appears in an occult robe before meeting the ghost at the hospital door. The ghost then removes the bedsheet revealing itself to be a young woman who ages instantly, before Murdoc kisses her in a marriage-like ceremony. The angle shifts to the other band members, who look on dumbfoundedly as Albarn chants “Nothing more to say” – perhaps acting like a mirror to the viewer who must feel some sort of similar confusion at all this!  


Some things defy explanation, and some things are better left unexplained – this work falls into both categories. Always psychedelic, always boundary-pushing, always fearless; the video for ‘Cracker Island’ is the result of the perfect synthesis of Albarn’s music and Hewlett’s artistic vision, with a little extra spice from Thundercat.   


David Harrold  


Image: ‘Cracker Island' Official Video (Screenshot) 

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