When asked to talk about the background of the Gorillaz’ 2010 album The Fall, an album almost entirely created with an iPad, front man Damon Albarn told Music Express, “I had a month on tour in America and everyday I had at least three hours of emptiness to fill. So I filled them.”
Though the concept of making an album with such a specific mode of production could be seen as a gimmick, The Fall doesn't feel the least bit hokey. Instead of sounding like a cheap, corporate-backed effort, one gets the sense that Albarn used the convenience and portability of the iPad to help him channel the emotions he experienced while on tour. “I guess it’s my love letter to America,” he told The Guardian in a 2010 interview. “I used to be baffled by this place, and I guess I still am in some ways…But right now, with all that’s going on, this is a good place to be and this has been a great tour.”
“I had a month on tour in America and everyday I had at least three hours of emptiness to fill. So I filled them.”- Damon Albarn
The scope of apps used on the project indicates how user friendly many of the music apps on iOS are, even for a self-described “Luddite.” The Fall utilizes 22 apps in total, incorporating everything from the popular Dub Siren Pro to lesser known programs.
Perhaps more experimental and a bit less accessible to the average listener than some of the Gorillaz’ previous albums, The Fall is still a strong effort from start to finish. The beautiful, minimalist “Bobby in Phoenix” feat. Bobby Womack and “HillBilly Man” — which sounds more like previous output from the Gorillaz — are a couple of highlights in this strange and engaging musical journey. Though the album isn’t perfect, it makes for an enjoyable and worthwhile listen.
We’ve seen other established musicians use the iPad in their setup as well. Mannie Fresh dropped jaws with a Beatmaker 2 live performance for NPR and produced a hit record for 2 Chainz with the same app. Fall Out Boy front man Patrick Stump and T-Pain both have an affinity for the Garageband app. But Albarn and the Gorillaz are the first group to compose an entire album, front to back, with the portable Apple device.
“I guess it’s my love letter to America”- Damon Albarn
This fact was not lost on KORG, a popular keyboard and synth manufacturer. In 2014 they teamed up with the Gorillaz to create KORG iELECTRIBE Gorillaz Edition. The special edition of their popular iELECTRIBE “beat box” featured samples of Gorillaz songs that allowed producers to remix their work. This business opportunity that resulted from The Fall could be an exciting watershed moment for musicians. With many rap producers already creating their own sample and sound design packages, one has to wonder if a name brand producer will ever work with app developers to create their own iOS production studio.
Although the Gorillaz haven’t announced any immediate plans to make another iPad album, Albarn’s knack for painting outside the lines with music could lead to further projects down the road. Only time will tell.
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