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‘1000 gecs and the Tree of Clues’: Takes us to the far corners of the pop galaxy

Roar writer Elena Veris-Reynolds reviews 100 gecs’ remix album, 1000 gecs and The Tree of Clues, featuring twenty-two artists.

Five months ago, when the pandemic began, 100 gecs were a relatively unknown, underground electronic music duo. They had a small, devoted fanbase, but like many producers with a similar vision and sound to them, were largely confined to niche internet corners. Their debut album, 1000 gecs, was released in May 2019 to a modest reception, and the group swore they would not release any kind of remix album. But on 10 July 2020, a 19-track remix album did materialise, and it was accompanied by a huge amount of hype that no one could have predicted months earlier. In some ways, 1000 gecs and The Tree of Clues seems to function as more of an anthology, lasting for thirty minutes longer than the original twenty minute album, and featuring four original songs and one live version alongside its fourteen remixes featuring twenty-two other artists.

Several of these remixes, released months before the album, played a large part in creating the sudden new interest in the duo and Tree of Clues opens with two of these teased tracks. PC Music pioneer A.G. Cook’s electrifying remix of ‘money machine’ throws us headfirst into the chaotic world of contrasts in which 100 gecs live. ‘ringtone’ follows, featuring avant-pop diva Charli XCX, rapper Rico Nasty and experimental pop group Kero Kero Bonito, bringing poignant lyrics and an intensity that lacks in the laid-back original. After luring us in, the disjointed Injury Reserve remix of ‘745 sticky’ comes next, followed by Danny L Harle’s version of ‘gec 2 ü’ that easily feels like it could fit into a “club bangers” compilation.

The hotly anticipated ‘hand crushed by a mallet’ remix plays next, featuring Fall Out Boy, Craig Owens and Nicole Dollenganger. I was most excited for this song because not only did I never grow out of my emo phase, but ‘hand crushed by a mallet’ is my favourite song on 1000 gecs. However, Patrick Stump’s iconic vocals are criminally underused, and I can’t help feeling that Dollenganger’s contribution adds little and it would have been better to just fully embrace the emo / hardcore cover it could have been without the constant musical switches.

Underground producers Ricco Harver and umru succeed, with a plastic, hyper version of ‘stupid horse’, featuring pop singer GFOTY and DJ Count Baldor, sandwiched in between. A string of stand-out tracks follow, starting with a remix of ‘xXXi_wud_nvrstøp_ÜXXx’ featuring Estonian musician Tommy Cash and another PC Music veteran, Hannah Diamond. Opening with Cash exclaiming “Mr Worldwide, International Killa,” it takes the sometimes repetitive original to the heights of trashy manufactured europop, with all the clichés you would expect. However, as with much of 100 gecs work, it treads a careful line between parody, nostalgia and euphoric banality. Black Dresses do what they do best on the excellent remix of ‘800db cloud’, the juxtaposition of screamed, tortured vocals against overproduced electronic beats again feels like a natural progression from the original. Rounding off this hattrick, Lil West and Tony Velour take the harsh experimental sound of ‘gecgecgec’ and turn it into a thoughtful, emotional electronic rap track.

To finish, 100 gecs serve us up more underground producers with 99jakes remix of ‘xXXi_wud_nvrstøp_ÜXXx’ and N0THANKY0U taking on ‘hand crushed by a mallet’. On a more thoughtful remix of ‘gec 2 ü’ that outdoes Danny L Harle, Dorian Electra brings their flamboyant, hyper-sexualised persona, complete with breathy vocals, lyrics about phone sex, and robotic production.

In such a varied album, what perhaps is most significant is that Tree of Clues manages to bring together so many influences and artists that are operating on the fringes of pop. It feels a lot like 100 gecs are showcasing everyone that they enjoy listening to and that influence them (and who they often influence back). All the elements and styles that help make up the specific innovative musical blend heard on 1000 gecs are acknowledged and expanded; PC Music, hip-hop, pop-punk, avant-garde, noise music, bubblegum and euro-pop, hardcore. Alongside big names like Fall Out Boy and Charli XCX, Tree of Clues features and showcases many independent artists who are still relatively underground and just beginning their careers. Further reaffirming 100 gecs’ commitment to their community and fans are the four new songs and one live track at the end of the album, several of which have fast become fan favourites, with ‘came to my show’ standing out. There’s no doubt that Tree of Clues will only expand 100 gecs reach, but it also reassures us that they won’t leave their roots in independent internet-culture behind.

Find out more and stream 1000 gecs and the Tree of Clues here.

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