Resting comfortably in the corner of Williamsburg sits Spirit House, an art and sensory installation powered by Sonos and transformed into the reclusive space and world of the virtual band, Gorillaz. Open to the public this weekend (April 21-April 23), the creative event serves as the perfect treat for fans who are more than ready for the band’s upcoming album, Humanz.
Since the release of their four new tracks, Gorlliaz creators Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett have followed the yellow brick road of virtual reality to share the residence of the animated band members 2D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs through their 360 app. The tour includes three rooms, with the first two acting as recreations of the gang’s grim, and an inviting living space. Another room, a home theater, transforms into an exhilarating musical spaceship. The final space is the playing ground for Sonos’ latest rollout, the PLAYBASE, a home theater speaker that brings bass and fashion into the mix.
Fans are expected to uncover easter eggs throughout the first two rooms, or phases. The first phase contains an open-plan kitchen/living room area with dirty dishes, imitation Fruity Pebbles, pizza on the wall and Pazuzu, a statue often seen at the band’s fictional Kong Studios and Plastic Beach. Gorlliaz memorabilia lay around as the Humanz tracks “Accession,” featuring Vince Staples, and “Let Me Out,” with Mavis Staples and Pusha T, play on an enjoyable loop through Sonos speakers.
In what Sonos reps describe as “the next level,” the second phase presents a home theater — which also serves as a time machine — of the band’s favorite vintage records from Grace Jones and the Parliament Funkadelic to Hewlett’s 2008 graphic novel The Cream of Tank Girl to “family” photos of the group filling the room. The room also allows you to enjoy a stretched out projector screen in the home with colorful and futuristic visuals to “Saturnz Bars” and “Andromeda.”
Picking up the “end of the world” theme from their 2005 Demon Dayz album, the projection takes us from the Spirit House to the starry galaxies. By now, it’s incredibly difficult not to bop around to the infectious riddims by Popcaan heard on “Saturnz Barz” or D.R.A.M.’s impressive harmonies on “Andromeda.” Before members of the group appear in full CGI on the outer angles of the room, visitors are pulled into every beat as the display exudes magenta and soft blue blocks.
The final room serves as an “Ask Me Anything” for the Sonos PLAYBASE. The speakers provide more ease to those who want to break free from aux cord DJ’s, while operating TV and music duties from their phones.
The black and white patterned mural in the showroom is just one side of a limited edition poster by Hewlett visitors that’s given at the exit. In all, the Spirit House sets out its mission to provide a musical and artistic experience like no other. “Gorillaz have always been inspiring artists who ignore the limitations of any medium or format,” said Dmitri Siegel, Sonos VP of Global Brand. “The launch of their first album in seven years is such a big moment for Gorillaz fans and we’re excited to invite people all over the world experience it using Sonos.”
Built in a matter of days, Spirit House became a conversation between Sonos and Gorillaz in February when the band shared plans for the upcoming album. When asked what made the group the perfect fit for Sonos, Jed Lewis of Sonos’ Global Brand Activation called it a match made in heaven. “We’ve been fans of Gorillaz for a long time, and when we discovered that the band was releasing their first studio album in several years around the time we were launching our new home theater speaker, PLAYBASE, it was a no-brainer,” he said. “Plus their new album, Humanz, is so focused on their own home, which is where people experience Sonos best, so it was a collaboration that was a perfect fit for both of us.”
While the RSVP’s for the Brooklyn space are now sold-out, Gorillaz isn’t done wowing fans. Followers can also register for the half-hour tour when it hits Berlin from April 28-30 and Amsterdam on May 6. With the announcement of their “global listening party,” the group is set to unveil its Demon Dayz festival this fall.
You can catch Humanz after it hits stores and streaming platforms on Friday, April 28.