Picking up in a similar vein as where the video for “Hallelujah Money” featuring Benjamin Clementine left off, “Saturnz Barz” keeps the tone of Gorillaz’s forthcoming album, Humanz, political. Directed by animator and co-Gorillaz creator Jamie Hewlett, the video begins with an iPad inside a gigantic room featuring voyeuristic footage of Gorillaz walking toward the house.
As they finally reach the front door, 2D complains, “Loudest doorbell I ever heard.” Murdoc, notes, “Looks like a fixer-upper.” And yes, this is many an artist/musician’s sentiment wide-eyed, naive sentiment when they go to a place like Detroit, still a mecca of decay and therefore cheapness. But the fact that the video is called “Saturnz Barz (Spirit House)” (which can also be experienced in a 360-degree view, because it wouldn’t be Gorillaz if something innovative wasn’t involved) dramatizes the long-held belief that just because a person goes into a place–infiltrates it, really–and “starts anew” doesn’t mean that the spirits and energies of the past haven’t remained within the space or dwelling to continue haunting.
Russell mumbles in that mumbling tone of his, “I think I’ll take a look around.” Murdoc returns, “Great idea Russ, always works out well in horror movies.” But it does kind of work out, if what Gorillaz were seeking in their road-weary travels was a touch of the surreal to lend inspiration to later song and music writing endeavors.
And so the quartet siphons off, with 2D getting entranced by a refrigerator, Murdoc becoming excited over the prospect of taking a bath, Russell finding comfort on a sheetless bed and Noodle (who looks like a wet dream for men who covet anime girls) puts on a record to play “Saturnz Barz.” From there, each band member enters his own respective k-hole. Case in point, Murdoc’s bath finds him dipping into an alternate universe, Russell’s bedroom gets invaded with an E.T.-esque alien, Noodle’s listening room, too, is suddenly populated by an extraterrestrial-like monster and 2D, perhaps with the best fate, watches food from the refrigerator come alive (it’s very Sausage Party), including a very expressive talking pizza.
After each band member endures their specific semi-hallucinogenic experience, the morning finds Hewlett cutting back to the mysterious iPad that looks like the Gorillaz’s version of the enchanted mirror from Beauty and the Beast. Seeming to leave in more of a haze than when they came, Russell expresses, “I got a real appetite” in his shirt that claims nothing is “rael.” It’s a subtle contrast that confirms how our conscience is often at war with what we want versus what is right.
Premiered along with a select few other tracks from the virtual band’s fifth album, including “Andromeda,” which Damon Albarn has stated was inspired by a club in Essex, the song and video for “Saturnz Barz” featuring Popcaan assures us all that Gorillaz are far from finished with what they have to say and what boundaries they have left to break.