Unlike prior generations of musicians, up-and-coming artists in 2020 have access to the internet; not just as a platform, but as an advertising tool. Since the creation of YouTube in 2005, and both SoundCloud and Bandcamp in the early 2010’s, many people have taken this tool, and launched themselves to the stratosphere. Now-mainstream stars like Justin Bieber and Chance the Rapper both grew from some of these platforms, and more names continue to pop-up on the radar of labels and critics, as time goes one. But what are the less-mainstream corners of music discovery like?
Behind the veil of amateur pop artists and new indie bands is a much different face; one that mimics the random assortment of the internet. With too many communities to name, it’s easiest just to say there are a variety of hubs of different types of music (obviously). Some are relatively-normal, like video-game spaces of indie-game artists: for example, Danny Baranowsky’s discography. There are also slightly weirder gates, with mashups and meme-music left and right. One of these is the self-proclaimed “pisscore:” a meme-heavy genre, focusing on unique, industrial noises, and sampling. Its purpose has mostly been towards comedy, and less towards sounding great, with several entrances surrounding a fictional, anime-girl named Piss-chan. I doubt I need to say more.
Recently, a group arguably-within this genre has been able to take many of its aspects and throw it into digestible pop-music. Of course, this group is 100 gecs. With catchy hooks and melodies, 100 gecs became a sensation after the release of their last record, 1000 gecs (2019), providing a variety of quick hits, most famously, “money machine.” Since the release of that record, and its widespread-yet-controversial impact on music-listeners, they have gained the attention of not just internet-aficionados, but huge artists like Fallout Boy and Charli XCX. Following this, in the nature of their internet-consumption background, and social platforms like Reddit and Bandcamp, they decided to aid artists in remixing a large number of their tracks, compiling them, and presenting them to the world. And after about a year of this process, we’re finally given the end result: 1000 gecs and The Tree of Clues (2020).
Album cover to the original, 1000 gecs.
When approaching a remix, there are typically three subcategories for what they’ll be; something that maintains the original product, with a simple addition or subtraction to make it an alternative version; something that takes the remixer’s artistic style and turns the original product into their own song; and an in-between, where the song has enough flare to be another artists’, but with enough similarities to where it sounds more like a cover of the original. Each subcategory is present in this release; something that’s incredibly important to maintain a diverse experience, despite remixing the same songs over and over again. There’s also a strong mix of artists and genres represented, presenting certain tracks as more mainstream EDM, others being more rave-friendly, and even Fallout Boy taking their modern rock approach at things.
The pace of the album is relatively similar to the original’s, with high-energy songs coming from every direction. Rarely does the adrenaline of the beat take a break, and when it does, it’s typically in favor of an effective-but-emotional transition, like the end of Tommy Cash and Hannah Diamond’s remix of “xXXi_wud_nvrstøp_ÜXXx.” But whether they’re injecting their own energetic beats, or coasting off of the one provided, each remixer brings something engaging to the table.
While it’s consistent in its energy-level, it’s certainly not consistent in quality. It’s hard to call any of these tracks “bad,” partly due to the solid source material, but it ranges from on-par, to outstanding. One of the highlights of the record is the N0thanky0u remix of “hand crushed by mallet.” The extra passion and ear-blasting bass take the initial intensity of the track, and turn it to eleven. Similarly, Black Dress’s “745 sticky” takes their staple electronic screams, and distorted industrial banging to the otherwise-accessible cut from the original record. In the opposite direction, but still wonderful, are both the Dorian Electra and Charli XCX remixes. Placing it into an even-more-mainstream audience with some silky-smooth vocals, they sound like their radio-friendly equivalent. Luckily, while making it their own, they don’t necessarily take the artistic shine off the song, and instead, simply change the color.
Cover of Black Dress’s Peaceful as Hell (2020), my current album of the year. You can only listen to this on Bandcamp.
The main issues come with specifically the Fallout Boy remix, and a couple of the other gimmicky musical styles, like GFOTY & Count Baldor’s almost re-recording of “stupid horse.” The only large change made is to the chorus; replacing the original lyrics with different words that, may be entertaining at first, but get old very quickly. Of course, as stated earlier, they aren’t the worst tracks in the world. It’s difficult to completely ruin what Laura and Dylan achieved. But they take a lot away from the initial masterpieces through uninteresting shifts in tone or style.
The icing on the cake of this new 100 gecs record are the new entrances to their own catalog. The last five tracks are all 100 gecs’ own; with two new songs, a new intro, and two live recordings. “came to my show,” and “toothless” both rival the rest of the tracks on 1000 gecs in their genius, simplistic approach to pop music, still through their standard, contagious auto-tune vocals and Bandcamp beats. “small pipe” is a cute little interlude before the closing track, the live recording of “800db cloud,” which any fan already loves.
Through a variety of approaches to the very interesting music of Laura and Dylan, 1000 gecs and The Tree of Clues gives fresh content to anyone craving more. Only one or two match the prior originality of the actual duo, but it’s hard to recreate that uniqueness. Either way, each track comes at the audience with a relentless approach, doing their best to give honor to their source. With its occasional slip-ups and inconsistencies, it’s hard to give anything above a 7, but the final entrances from 100 gecs themselves brings it up to (barely) an 8/10.