Where do you start with 100 gecs? Their brand of scary but cute, low-fi, noise rock, glitch electronica has to be heard to be believed. Initially, the anarchic pop duo burst onto the scene last year with their highly favored debut release 1000 gecs. It’s an eclectic genre-defying collection of lo-fi mixes that beguiled and entertained in equal measure. 1000 gecs has made the duo one of the most divisive acts in modern music. The album made its way into heights of numerous end-of-year lists and even topped the best album of the year in several publications. This year Dylan Brady and Laura Les follow up their debut with a “remix album” stuffed with features, remixes, covers, and a couple of new recordings. But don’t worry, it’s just as blissfully difficult as their debut.
Since their debut 100 gecs had planned to be on a world tour, unfortunately, the cosmos had other plans. Following the cancellation of the tour, the duo planned and performed at their own digital festival, Square Garden, which took place online in a Minecraft server. Many of the acts at the digital festival are included on 1000 gecs and the Tree of Clues, the two new original songs were also played at the festival. 100 gecs are a band that know their audience and are tapped as much as a fan as they are a contributor to internet and meme culture.
1000 gecs and the Tree of Clues feels less like a new release essential to the 100 gecs cannon and more of an acknowledgment of their idols, influences, and peers. The features and collaborators range from the well known (Charli XCX, Dorian Electra) though to relatively obscure (Lil West, Tommy Cash) as well as the completely unexpected (Fall Out Boy). The inclusion of Fall Out Boy and other emo acts such as Craig Owens of Chiodos shows 100 gecs paying homage to emo influence that permeates each of their catchy hook driven pop-punk melodies. The track “hand crushed by a mallet (Remix)” could easily find a place on Fall Out Boy’s latest release.
In complete contrast, the album boasts a vast number of acts from or related to, the British experimental label PC Music. Across the album, 100 gecs feature current experimental pop acts GFOTY and Hannah Diamond, former PC Music act Kerro Kerro Bonito, as well as A.G. Cook and Danny L Harle, who both have writing and production credits on Charli XCX’s last two albums. PC Music draws influence from Europop, EDM, children’s music, and experimental electronica. A cutesy, kitsch shell with a dark and mysterious interior. The label’s eclectic over the top but naive sound based in organized chaos has been a clear influence on 100 gecs and their musical melting pot. PC Music’s prominence on this release displays the kinship and passion that gecs share for ever-developing internet subgenres and subcultures.
Another sharp turn in collaboration leads to hip-hop features such as Injury Reserve, Estonian rapper and conceptual artist Tommy Cash, and Soundcloud star Ricco Nasty. Dylan Brady’s beasts owe a lot to the genre, and his ardent passion is easily heard throughout his production credits, as well as his work as half of 100 gecs. “745 sticky (Injury Reserve Remix)” is one of the highlights of the album. Its sparse instrumentation constructed from car horn samples, obscure lo-fi synths, and unidentifiable sounds give this new version a Death Grips feel with the ambiguous polytonality and arhythmic stabs of avant-garde composer Igor Stravinsky.
Canadian duo Black Dresses also take their collective hand to 100 gecs’ “745 sticky” and put a completely different spin on it. In “745 sticky (Black Dresses remix)”, the track is made even more abrupt and absurd than the original. The sound collage feels like a conceptual sound installation with terrifyingly dark undertones. The close microphoned added vocals and distorted production are full of raw rage and visceral energy. Black Dresses’ recent split has meant this may be the last project that the two worked on together. 100 gecs’ tribute and thanks for Black Dresses’ influence and support in the experimental internet cannon may well end up being the swansong of a duo made and destroyed by the internet.
When listening to 1000 gecs and the Tree of Clues, you have to question what is it that this album is trying to do? This release isn’t a next important edition in the discography of 100 gecs; it is a document to pay thanks to the influences for the success of their debut. Like 100 gecs debut, this remix album is music as art, and it is a collection of tongue-in-cheek experimentations trying to find new sounds and point the way for the future of music. 1000 gecs and the Tree of Clues is well worth a listen so long as you are familiar with the 2019 debut. Alone the album is a little overlong, repetitive, and unwarranted. Still, when viewed through the lens of the debut, it is a tribute to a community of new music makers. The album is insightful, moving, and points the way to new artists and their experimental music.