Last year the impossible to Google 0.1 impressed us with “Softism”, the standout track on Feral Media’s tenth anniversary compilation. The artist (also known as Bob Streckfuss) has now returned with a belter, a seventeen-minute track that unfolds like an electronic, experimental “Bohemian Rhapsody”. This isn’t to say that the track is an impending hit – it’s too pleasantly weird for that – but that the piece unfolds in a series of unpredictable movements without ever losing the plot.
While sporadic vocals are incorporated, their falsetto delivery makes them a bit hard to understand, and for the most part they sink into the sea of instrumentation like Jónsi’s invented Hopelandic. Once the lyrics go through the first round unadorned, they become fodder for sampling, splicing and looping, another tool in the percussive arsenal. When they return at the end, one gets the impression that they have survived a perilous journey. But this dance isn’t about the words, it’s about the mechanical birds: the beats that flutter and soar and dive around the production like an overpacked aviary at feeding time.
And these are some great beats. This is a dance, but it isn’t for dancefloors; it’s the sort of dance that one would expect to encounter at the ballet or modern circus. Tempoes wander all over the map. The dance starts slowly, grows supercharged, moves full throttle, shifts gears, stops and starts again. At times the beats are completely absent, as in the opening, while synth and song rule the roost. Their first appearance is a happy blast. Their initial patterns are purely rhythmic, with a few loose beeps and boops tucked behind the ear. But when they come around again, it’s all tangled hair and electric coils. In the seventh minute, the track explodes, then implodes. The speed reaches an unsustainable level, the plug is pulled, the mechanical birds are rebooted, and they come back frazzled, frantic and wild. In the eleventh minute one can even hear their wings. But then a pianist is hired to calm them down, and after a few false starts he finds success. The finale recalls the overture; in the concluding minutes, a final tempo is established. The roost is finally at rest.
A debut album from 0.1 is in the works; if it’s as good as the single and EP, it’s going to be one of the year’s highlights. (Richard Allen)