Just days after news of Tony Allen‘s sudden passing broke, the Gorillaz have released a new song in the band’s Song Machine series, titled “How Far?”, featuring the iconic Afrobeat drummer and popular U.K. rapper, Skepta.
“How Far?” marks the fourth Song Machine tune, following “Momentary Bliss”, “Désolé”, and “Aries”. Starting at the end of January, the Gorillaz have collaborated with new artists for each release, including Slaves, slowthai, Fatoumata Diawara, Peter Hook, and Georgia.
The latest installment, however, departs from the band’s modus operandi and forgoes the music videos that have accompanied each previous Song Machine episode. Instead, a picture of the virtual band members, 2-D, Noodle, Russel Hobbs, and Murdoc Niccals looking at Allen projects on screen throughout. Each member has a chat bubble above their head with emojis inside. 2-D, like many of us, is heartbroken, while Noodle’s emoji suggests she is considering the spirituality of the situation. Russel, of course, pays respect to Allen as a fellow drummer while Murdoc raises a glass in tribute to the Afrobeat legend.
In the video’s description, the Gorillaz highlight a classic Allen quote: “I want to take care of youngsters—they have messages and I want to bring them on my beat.”
The relationship between Gorillaz brainchild Damon Albarn and Tony Allen goes back quite a ways, as the two formed a supergroup along with Clash bassist Paul Simonon, and Verve guitarist Simon Tong in the early 2000s, called The Good, the Bad & the Queen. That familiarity manifested itself on “How Far?”, making it one of the best Gorillaz releases to date. Allen’s Afrobeat groove forms the backbone for Albarn’s melodies, while Skepta skillfully links vocal phrases and stanzas together, culminating in the perfect Gorillaz tribute to a musician gone too soon.
Listen to the Gorillaz homage to Tony Allen below.
Gorillaz ft. Tony Allen, Skepta – “How Far?”
Since Song Machine launched, the Gorillaz have dropped the latest information and teases on their Instagram page. Be sure to give it a follow and stay up-to-date on all future installments.