Gorillaz announce album with sci-fi fantasy

Singer Damon Albarn of Gorillaz said that "Humanz," the group's first album since 2011, would come out on April 28

Virtual rockers Gorillaz on Thursday announced a new album and previewed it with a track that merges rock, hip-hop and reggae alongside a trippy sci-fi video.

The experimental side project of Damon Albarn of Blur fame -- which consists of a fictional band lineup represented by cartoons -- said that "Humanz," the group's first album since 2011, would come out on April 28.

Gorillaz said the group would play a release show Friday in its home base of London, with tickets distributed to fans who pre-order the album and make a donation to the White Helmets, the volunteer rescue teams in Syria's brutal war.

"Humanz" will have guest stars on nearly every track including alternative hip-hop pioneers De La Soul and soul great Mavis Staples.

The group released a new track from the album, "Saturnz Barz," that starts off with rapping by the Jamaican dancehall star Popcaan before taking on a dreamy but chaotic sound that merges electroclash and reggae.

The video -- available on YouTube in 3D -- brings back the cartoon characters of Gorillaz as they explore a haunted house, whose attractions include a talking pizza slice.

The "bassist" of Gorillaz, shaggy-haired Murdoc Niccals, then floats naked in space between a revolving Saturn and meteors.

Since the 1990s, Albarn -- who duets with Popcaan on the song -- has been one of the leading lights of Britpop by fronting Blur but has pursued more eclectic styles with Gorillaz, a collaboration with comic book artist Jamie Hewlett.

"Saturnz Barz" is the second track released from "Humanz." On the eve of US President Donald Trump's inauguration in January, the group unexpectedly released a trip-hop track called "Hallelujah Money."

Featuring the Mercury Prize-winning singer Benjamin Clementine, "Hallelujah Money" takes aim at greed and "building walls" and features a video that mockingly features the elevator in the US leader's Trump Tower home.