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The fifth studio album from virtual band Gorillaz is almost here

Fans of digital pop outfit Gorillaz who have been clamoring to hear the band’s fifth studio album ever since news that it was coming broke during the middle of last year will be encouraged by recent words from frontman Damon Albarn.

“I’m loving it and it’s getting there,” the British musician declared during a recent interview with BBC Radio 6 Music. The singer says the highly anticipated album “should be ready fairly soon.”

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Work on the newest Gorillaz effort began in September, after having been delayed by Albarn’s varied musical commitments, but its recording process has reportedly been fairly steady. Though details of what the material will sound like remain tightly under wraps, known collaborators include iconic French musician Jean Michel-Jarre, rapper Vic Mensa, songwriter Liam Bailey, and producer Twilite Tone.

The band hasn’t put out new music in six years, since late-2010’s The Fall, having spaced out their albums relatively evenly since first forming in the late-1990s. Albarn previously fronted famed British rock band Blur, and presently divides his time between numerous musical projects.

The release of the new record has been teased for as soon as the end of this year, with Albarn saying during the BBC interview: “Later in the year, we’ll be starting to get the whole Gorillaz thing together.” That likely means more awesome live shows from the world’s premiere virtual band, who typically play in darkness with their animated characters projected in some fashion.

But despite Albarn’s hopeful 2016 agenda, his Gorillaz collaborator, Jamie Hewlett, has told fans that a 2017 release is more realistic, because the album is, “really fucking special,” and, “can’t be rushed.”

Regardless of whether it hits our ears late this year or early next, given the overt excitement of the musical partners, the next Gorillaz album should be a special one.