Back in January, which now feels like some lost ancient era, Gorillaz began teasing a project called Song Machine. A whole lot has happened since then, but Damon Alban’s virtual band has kept putting out music with all the reliability and persistence that a project called Song Machine would suggest. First there was “Momentary Bliss” with Slowthai and Slaves, then “Désolé” with Fatoumata Diawara, then “Aries” with Peter Hook and Georgia, and “Friday 13th” with Octavian. (The Skepta and Tony Allen collab “How Far?” is apparently separate from Song Machine, given that it was released in tribute to Allen after his death.) And today, the Song Machine cranks on with another one.
The latest transmission from Gorillaz comes in the form of “PAC-MAN.” Despite the fact that Gorillaz might seem like a project that could continue on during quarantine, this song was finished just before lockdown like the others. Albarn produced it alongside his longtime collaborator Remi Kabaka, Jr. and Prince Paul. Obviously, these singles have boasted a pretty impressive array of collaborators thus far. And “PAC-MAN” arrives just in time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the game by giving us a Gorillaz song featuring Schoolboy Q.
Musically, “PAC-MAN” is a slinking thing, at first dominated by a whispery melody from Albarn. Then, about two minutes in, Schoolboy takes over and the vibe of the track shifts — over the same beat, the daydream of Albarn’s part turns into something a little harder. The video features the band getting into some unexpected situations after Murdoc acquires an old arcade machine. Check it out below.