10,000 gecs” latest album from 100 gecs

10,000 gecs, by 100 gecs.

10,000 gecs”, the new album from 100 gecs is final­ly here, and has been duly recog­nised as the promised deliv­ery of the sec­ond coming. 

After the LA-based duo’s debut, 1,000 gecs, broke the inter­net after its release in 2019, the band was signed to the mighty Atlantic records, and the world wait­ed to see just how dis­ap­point­ing their fol­low-up would be, now that they’d sold out to the man.

But no soon­er was the album fin­ished and ready to go, than the band cer­e­mo­ni­ous­ly binned it to begin it again from scratch. And now that, a life­time lat­er, their fol­low-up is final­ly here, the ver­dict is unanimous.

10,000 gecs is an epoch-defin­ing snap­shot of the zeit­geist that per­fect­ly encap­su­lates the dis­pos­able nature of con­tem­po­rary cul­ture. By min­ing so catholic a land­scape of musi­cal influ­ences with such bold irrev­er­ence, it tri­umphant­ly pro­duces a new kind of universality. 

The world and music will nev­er be the same again. You know, the usu­al in terms of a mea­sured crit­i­cal response. 

And the pair are play­ing their part to per­fec­tion, per­form­ing wall to all inter­views with prac­ticed insou­ciance, declar­ing their indif­fer­ence to all media, includ­ing and espe­cial­ly social (“I’m actu­al­ly not even on…” etc.) in per­fect­ly formed sound bites pre­cise­ly for­mu­lat­ed for the very plat­forms they’ve so lit­tle inter­est in courting. 

In fair­ness, it’s not their fault that they sud­den­ly find them­selves cat­a­pult­ed into the lime­light. They have to find some way, I sup­pose, of deal­ing with all that, and this is prob­a­bly as good a way as any. 

But there’s a huge prob­lem for a pair of musi­col­o­gists who are as unabashed­ly seri­ous in their study of all things son­ic as gecs are. There’s very lit­tle ter­rain left to go search­ing in.

In the 80s and 90s, the 60s and 70s were trawled exhaus­tive­ly by hip hop and rap artists for grooves and snatch­es of melody to sug­ar-coat their rage with. Then, in the oughts, DJs like Shad­ow and RJD2 mixed con­tem­po­rary hip hop with what­ev­er they could get their hands on from the 80s and 90s, as well as the 60s and 70s. While more recent­ly, the likes of Daft Punk and Bey­on­cé went back to dis­co and to house in their orig­i­nal forms. 

So any­one dig­ging today is forced on to nec­es­sar­i­ly obscure ter­rain. The result is that, in between the glo­ri­ous onslaught of thrash gui­tars, pop-punk, ska and auto-tuned vocals we get respect­ful nods in the direc­tion of Limp Bizk­it, Green Day, Primus and Ween.

Which gecs then feel duty-bound to insist is done in com­plete earnest­ness, and is utter­ly devoid of even a soup­con or smidgeon of irony.

It’s all incred­i­bly clever, gen­uine­ly impres­sive and propul­sive­ly toe-tap­ping. And yet. To once again mis­quote Gertrude Stein, there’s very lit­tle there, there. 

Instead of being able to bal­ance the intel­lec­tu­al weight of their son­ic archi­tec­ture with the emo­tion inher­ent in a clas­sic 60s, 70s, 80s, or 90s melody, they’re reduced to rely­ing on musi­cal ref­er­ents that fur­ther bol­ster that intel­lec­tu­al heft. So it ends up being all brains and lit­tle in the way of heart or soul.

The result is an album that’s daz­zling but un-engag­ing. Telling­ly, despite com­ing in at bare­ly 27 min­utes, the album some­how over­stays its welcome. 

What it feels like more than any­thing else is an inter­mez­zo. An enjoy­able, indul­gent nov­el­ty record, that the band can now put behind them to focus on some­thing some­what more substantial. 

You can see the offi­cial video for 10,000 gecs’ Dori­tos & Fritos below:

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Gilla Band’s new album, Most Normal

Gilla Band, Most Nor­mal

After the tour around their sec­ond album, The Talkies, was put on hia­tus because of the pan­dem­ic, Girl Band found them­selves with less to do and a more than usu­al amount of time to think. 

And they decid­ed that, rather than wait to be picked up by the gen­der police and hauled in front of the court of pub­lic opin­ion, they’d change their name from Girl to Gilla Band. Dis­cre­tion being the bet­ter part of val­our. So this, Most Nor­mal, is the third album from what is now the Gilla Band

Gilla were part of a trio of bands to come out of Dublin in the lat­ter half of the 2010s, the oth­er two being Fontaines D.C. and The Mur­der Cap­i­tal – though the lat­ter are flavoured as much by the Riv­er Lee as they are by the Liffey. 

Each pro­duced a vis­cer­al, indus­tri­alised squall to gut­tur­al lyrics that were declaimed rather than sung, angri­ly decry­ing despair and urban alien­ation. Mur­der Cap­i­tal and Fontaines found imme­di­ate, overnight suc­cess, the for­mer to a man­age­able degree, the lat­ter stratos­pher­i­cal­ly so. But Gilla Band seemed some­how to have got left behind. 

Fontaines D.C. enjoy­ing their success.

First, after being signed to Rough Trade and then releas­ing their first album, Hold­ing Hands With Jamie, in 2015, the band were forced to take their first hia­tus. As their lead singer, Dara Kiely, focused, quite cor­rect­ly, on the men­tal health issues that were threat­en­ing to over­whelm him.

Then, when they even­tu­al­ly got back togeth­er again to release their very good sec­ond album, The Talkies, in 2019, Covid once again put them on hold. But this, it turns out, was a bless­ing in dis­guise. Because it sent them back into the stu­dio, and the result­ing album, Most Nor­mal, is a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward again. And is in fact one of the most excit­ing albums of the year.

The album’s strength come from two quar­ters. First, instead of only pro­duc­ing music that can be played live, they focused instead on using every­thing at their dis­pos­al in the stu­dio to pro­duce the noise they were look­ing for. The result is a sound that’s even more unnerv­ing, and some­how even loud­er and more grat­ing than the one pro­duced on their pre­vi­ous pair of albums. As dis­tor­tion gets processed to pro­duce an even more per­ilous assault on the ears.

What it sounds like at times is that part of the sound­track on a David Lynch film where the sounds are so dis­tort­ed and dis­so­nant, and what you hear is so unset­tling, that you avert your eyes in fear of what’s about to happen.

As to what the album address­es, if the pro­tag­o­nists from CamusThe Stranger or Sartre’s Nau­sea were cat­a­pult­ed into the 21st cen­tu­ry and locked inside a record­ing stu­dio, this is very prob­a­bly what the result­ing album would sound like. 

The Mur­der Capital.

And sec­ond, and as facile as this undoubt­ed­ly is, it’s impos­si­ble not to con­clude that the suc­cess enjoyed by Fontaines and the Mur­der Cap­i­tal has knocked the edges off the songs that they’re now producing. 

Where­as the absence of that suc­cess has ensured that Gilla Band con­tin­ue to be and to sound as angry about being over­looked and ignored by the world they find them­selves in as they were five and six years ago. Not the music busi­ness world, the world in gen­er­al. The real world.

It’s the sound of jump leads, one thrust into a brain, the oth­er into the gut. And as such, it’s glo­ri­ous­ly unmediated. 

The boys from Pitch­fork give it an impressed 8.4 here, and cor­rect­ly point to The Weirds as the stand­out track.

You can see the video for Back­wash, the lead sin­gle, below. Just don’t expect it to chart any time soon.

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New albums from Circuit des Yeux and Bonobo

Cir­cuit Des Yeux, Io

Io is the sixth album from Haley Fohr in her guise as Cir­cuit Des Yeux. And it suc­ceeds some­how in mar­ry­ing and merg­ing her twin ter­rains of grunge folk and exper­i­men­tal rock, and in a way that man­ages mirac­u­lous­ly to evade any hint of pretentiousness. 

The result is an album that sounds like extracts from an imag­i­nary rock opera. But instead of arous­ing the usu­al dread and embar­rass­ment that those two words tra­di­tion­al­ly evoke, it moves and impress­es in equal measure. 

Lis­ten­ing to Fohr’s impe­r­i­al bari­tone chan­nelling Dia­man­da Galás, scal­ing who knows how many octaves, as the strings ref­er­ence mid 70s ELO, you imag­ine a David Byrne pro­duc­tion, but at an off Broad­way venue in a yet-to-be gen­tri­fied seedy side of town.

An album born in melan­cho­lia, the result­ing music soars. 

Bonobo, Frag­ments

Frag­ments is the first album in five years from the LA based British DJ slash pro­duc­er Si Green, who releas­es albums under the moniker Bonobo. And almost every­one agrees that it’s a won­der to behold and as joy­ous a way to ush­er in the new year as could pos­si­bly be wished for. 

NPR’s All Songs Con­sid­ered, the Guardian, the Inde­pen­dent, UK and Irish, NME et al. Only those peren­ni­al scrooges at Pitch­fork held out, giv­ing it a cur­mud­geon­ly 5.4 out of 10, here.

St Ger­main’s Tourist

The album starts out promis­ing­ly enough, and sure enough, tracks 2, 3 and 4 do indeed seem to promise that much need­ed and prover­bial ton­ic. T3, Rose­wood, even hints at the kind of hoped-for ubiq­ui­ty that Rose Rouge, the open­ing track on Saint Germain’s Tourist achieved when it was released in 2000, and which it seemed to main­tain well into the fol­low­ing year and beyond.

But after those first few tracks, Frag­ments sinks into mid- and increas­ing­ly slow­er tem­po fare. And very quick­ly, you qui­et­ly drift off. 

If you find your­self at a club where Green is spin­ning his discs, you’ll enjoy his use of those first few tracks as part of his set (and per­haps track 8…). But there’s absolute­ly no need to sit down and lis­ten to the rest of the album. I’m afraid the boys from Pitch­fork get that one right.

You can see the video for the open­ing track on Cir­cuit Des Yeux’s Io, the Van­ish­ing, below:

And here, if you need it, is a reminder of what St Germain’s Rose Rouge sounds like:

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2 of 2020’s best albums: Sault’s Untitled, (Black Is) and Untitled, (Rise)

album cover for Untitled Black Is
Sault’s Unti­tled, (Black Is)

No soon­er had artists from all walks of life just about man­aged to per­suade the world that no, the pan­dem­ic was not in fact the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty to final­ly get around to pro­duc­ing that mas­ter­piece. And that, on the con­trary, craft­ing any­thing of sub­stance was, sneer, a lit­tle more com­pli­cat­ed than that, along come Sault with not one two stun­ning albums, both of which are dou­ble albums, and nei­ther of which have a sem­blance of filler in sight.

Sault’s Unti­tled, (Rise).

Worse again, the first, Unti­tled (Black Is) seems to have been pro­pelled into exis­tence in response to the mur­der of George Floyd, on May 25th, and was released, in qui­et anger, bare­ly four weeks lat­er in June. With Unti­tled (Rise) appear­ing but 12 weeks lat­er. So that’s a brace of appar­ent­ly hasti­ly con­ceived dou­ble albums over the course of the sum­mer, after the pair of equal­ly impres­sive albums they released at the end of 2019 – ‘5’ and ‘7’.

Sault’s ‘5’.

Then there’s the ques­tion of who exact­ly ‘they’ are. Sault do nei­ther pro­mo­tion nor pub­lic­i­ty. And not in the we’re-uncomfortable-in-the-limelight limelit inter­view way, there’s gen­uine­ly almost noth­ing about them, any­where. The two prin­ci­ples appear to be the London–based pro­duc­er Inflo and the RnB singer Cleo Sol, who are joined by a hand­ful of the per­form­ers signed to their record label, For­ev­er Liv­ing Originals. 

The two albums mir­ror and echo one anoth­er, with, on paper, Black Is pro­duc­ing the more som­bre med­i­ta­tion and Rise the more dance­able beats. But truth be told, they both dive and glide from men­ac­ing gloom to con­fi­dent joy and back. And the mood con­jured up by both albums can best be summed up by the latter’s title, ‘rise’, being at once tri­umphant­ly upbeat and con­fronta­tion­al­ly revolutionary.

Sault’s ‘7’.

Musi­cal­ly, we move from 70s’ RnB and the pre-dis­co soul of Luther Van­dross to the care­ful­ly con­sid­ered mashups of the Avalanch­es, and that turn of the cen­tu­ry moment when dance, funk and triphop coa­lesced. And each album is mar­bled with tracks built on afro-Cuban beats, send­ing the sounds back to where it all began.

Excep­tion­al albums from an embar­rass­ing­ly fecund base­ment some­where in the for­mer metrop­o­lis of Lon­don, Eng­land. You can see hear the stand­out track Widl­fires from Black Is here:

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Ye Vagabonds, Varo, Landless and the new Irish trad bands

Ye Vagabonds.

The cur­rent wave of new Irish trad bands can be traced back to the form­ing of The Gloam­ing in 2011. Five musi­cians of dif­fer­ent ages and from dif­fer­ent musi­cal back­grounds, The Gloam­ing were deter­mined to look out and around in as many, all encom­pass­ing direc­tions as possible. 

They looked back not just to tra­di­tion­al Irish music, but to clas­si­cal music, both con­tem­po­rary mod­ernism and the clas­si­cal canon. And out, to Irish music in Amer­i­ca, but also to jazz and the blues, and to all man­ner of world music, to Africa, the Amer­i­c­as, Asia and beyond. And they did (and do) so with an unabashed and unapolo­getic seriousness. 

Paving the way, The Gloaming.

To everyone’s slight sur­prise, The Gloaming’s three album and var­i­ous res­i­den­cies proved a huge com­mer­cial suc­cess. Which has opened the door to a num­ber of bands made up of sim­i­lar­ly seri­ous if some­what younger musi­cians, almost all of whom are in their 20s. And each of whom is as keen to broad­en and stretch the scope of ‘trad’ as those 5 stal­warts in The Gloaming.

Lankum were the next to enjoy that sort of rel­a­tive­ly high pro­file suc­cess. Their sec­ond album, Between the Earth and the Sky won the RTE Folk Album of the Year in 2018, and last year’s The Live­long Day was, if any­thing, even more lauded.

Land­less’ Bleach­ing Bones.

And they’re now signed to the mighty Rough Trade, who’ve set up Riv­er Lea, an imprint aimed specif­i­cal­ly at these shores. And the lat­est addi­tion to that ros­trum is Ye Vagabonds.

The Car­low duo who make up Ye Vagabonds had been res­i­dent at Walshe’s in Stoney­bat­ter, before the youknowwhat, where they were often joined by Land­less. Land­less’ debut album, Bleach­ing Bones, was record­ed at Guer­ril­la Stu­dios, in Dublin, which was set up by John ‘spud’ Murphy. 

And Mur­phy was also the pro­duc­er on those Lankum albums, hav­ing pre­vi­ous­ly worked with Katie Kim (reviewed by me ear­li­er here and here), who is also on Riv­er Lea. And more recent­ly, he worked with Varo on their debut album there. 

So to vary­ing degrees, they all move in sim­i­lar orbits but their take on trad is very much their own. Lankum for instance, are invari­ably com­pared to the Pogues. They pro­vide a sim­i­lar­ly punk-infused, in your face assault on the tra­di­tion­al bal­lads and songs they dive into. While Ye Vagabonds pro­duce a much more mea­sured, stu­dious approach, very much in step with that of The Gloaming. 


And all three are huge­ly invest­ed in drone music, which looks on the one hand to indige­nous music from all over the world. And on the oth­er, to the avant-garde of La Monte Young and the Vel­vet Under­ground

And both Land­less and Varo are, if any­thing, even more dis­tinc­tive. Land­less are four female singers who per­form tra­di­tion­al bal­lads from the all around the British Isles unac­com­pa­nied by any instru­ments, sculpt­ing their melodies with extra­or­di­nary four-part har­monies. While Varo are a female duo, one from France and one from Italy, who fil­ter tra­di­tion­al bal­lads through the prism of Euro­pean Baroque music.

You can, and should, lis­ten (for free) and then down­load their albums from Band­camp; Varo’s epony­mous Varo here,


 Ye Vagabond’s The Hare’s Lament here


and Land­less’ Bleach­ing Bones here


And you can see Land­less on Blue of the Night

this Varo video

and Ye Vagabonds below.

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