Childish Gambino '3.15.20' Review: Mind-controlling broadcast with beeps, pulses and 'algorhythms'
Childish Gambino's new album is out! The surprising new studio album titled '3.15.20' was officially released on March 20, but was monikered after the date it debuted online.
On March 15, Donald Glover who goes by his stage name Childish Gambino originally streamed the new album on a continuous loop on a website called DonaldGloverPresents.com. The songs were pulled a few hours later and even Glover's manager Fam Rothstein had retweeted the link to the site, but the retweet has since been removed and Rothstein's Twitter account has been deleted.
On Friday, March 20, a new countdown appeared on the site, which was timed to end on Sunday, March 22. Upon the timer’s completion, '3.15.20' appeared in its entirety on all streaming services. Read more on the debut here. The whole affair was odd, yet feels intentional. Glover fans will know that the 36-year-old 'This is America' singer is not new to dabbling with symbolism in his musical projects and in '3.15.20', one of the first things that stand out is the LP's song names themselves. Read the tracklist below:
1 - '0.00'
2 - 'Algorhythm'
3 - 'Time' (Ft. Ariana Grande)
4 - '12.38' (Ft. 21 Savage, Ink & Kadhja Bonet)
5 - '19.10'
6 - '24.19'
7 - '32.22'
8 - '35.31'
9 - '39.28'
10 - '42.26'
11 - '47.48'
12 - '53.49'
Each track is a timestamp to where it falls on the album. It is clear the album was geared towards the theme of time, also evident in the third track which is one of two songs not written in numbers, titled 'Time'. But how does the music come in? At first, you may latch onto Glover's windlessness found in subtle angry warcries camouflaged by the melodic music, but a few tracks in and you begin to sense a mystery. The first three songs play out like a proclamation of sorts. The stream of songs that follow begin to sound like a Sunday night drive with the radio on and while the album comes in the spirit of broadcasting, we can assume Gambino wants fans to track its message.
In '0.00', the album's first track, the song opens with a soft suspended electronic note while only the lyrics "We are, we are, we are" begin to gradually multiply and echo to the end.
In 'Algorhythm', Glover wants audiences to involve their bodies while singing "Step, step, slide, slide. Move your body from side to side. Clap your hands, don't spite the vibe. Keep on moving, you might survive" in deep cybernetically-enchanted vocals.
'Time' gets a warped flanger-type filter with only percussion as its rhythm while the vocals come in with a perfectly blended mix of R&B and gospel. The chorus ushers in lyrics "Maybe all the stars in the night are really dreams. Maybe this whole world ain't exactly what it seems. Maybe the sky will fall down on tomorrow. But one thing's for certain, baby. We're running out of time" and maybe we are lead to what the entire album is all about.
In '19.10' we get a catchy R&B melody with a continuous sweeping funky beat. The pitch begins to bend upward and warp until the song's end when we get a score reminiscent of the background music of a bizarre classic slasher film. Carrying on from the previous song's darker tone, the following track, '24.19', bends, twists and begins to unwind in vocal clarity and melody. The eight-minute track appears to tell a story after going five minutes in and we are suddenly treated to soothing harp while Gambino sings in choir-esque vocals. The most theatrical part of the song has to be right at the end when the heavenly tune quietens and we hear Glover breathing heavily as if being chased.
Every song on the LP provides a different landscape of electronics. On '32.22', synth and abstract percussive provide the tribal rhythm. On '39.28' Gambino sings "Why go to the party" acapella with multi-layered vocals before a soft jazz piano melody slides in. '42.26' gives listeners a soothing samba rhythm with warm, rich instrumentals and shows Glover's vocal versatility with smooth singing in one the album's most straightforward tracks.
In '3.15.20', you can hear many theatrics and the new album may very well be Gambino's masterpiece. Music that alternates, transforms, escalates, winds down, pulsates, beeps, chimes and more to present unique music that gives us a glimpse into the multi-faceted mind of Childish Gambino.