[Mik.Musik.!./BDTA; 2015]

Styles: mutant techno, space travel, cloak electronics
Others: “We do not follow anybody!” - RSS B0YS

The Polish duo RSS B0YS isn’t just an ordinary electronic group. It’s an artistic concept, an exercise in anonymity in the age of information overload, a total work of art. But most importantly, it’s a state of mind. Camouflaged under strange DIY cloaks and sporting cryptic pseudonyms, the SHAPE-affiliated artists build their image by shrouding themselves in mystery, filling their Tumblr with images that obscure identity (ceremonial garbs, elaborate costumes, burqas) and even repurposing language to their own needs by writing in capitals, replacing every “o” with “0,” and having a general contempt for vowels — as exemplified in the title of their debut album, HDDN, which of course means “hidden.” As such, their idiosyncratic method is quick to draw followers and gain haters, sparking numerous rumors and speculations regarding their true selves, the most popular theory being that RSS B0YS are two well-known musicians from the Polish electronic scene who just want to create buzz. But they may as well just be “nobodies,” because once listeners get passed the concept, they only have the music to focus on.

HDDN is a bold statement of their ideology, methods, and sounds. Having released only a few low-profile EPs before, their fried mutant techno caught the ear of curious heads looking for far-out music. This debut full-length was co-released by the underground Polish labels Mik.Musik.!. (already a seasoned player in the Polish techno and electronic music scenes) and BDTA (a Warsaw-based small DIY label dabbling in all things experimental, from rusted techno to field recordings), coming on a double(!) CD. The cover artwork, designed by art duo Pussykrew, is equally strange and abstract, gleaming with metallic colors and chrome-like reflections, bearing an uncanny resemblance to T-2000 in its liquid state (though the members themselves compare it to an alien in their lengthy liner notes).

It seems that the biggest insult for RSS B0YS is being compared to someone else. It’s understandable — less known artists are being compared to the well-known ones on a daily basis, which can be frustrating, especially when you’re trying to carve your own singular vision and suddenly some Know-It-All says you sound like “X lite” or “Y on acid.” It’s unpractical too, not only for musicians, but also for the listeners themselves, who often complain that reviews fail to even describe what the album sounds like and instead escape into the elitist delusion of referencing and namedropping. In this context, RSS B0YS can be heard as a voice of protest, both with their image (which appears perfectly anonymous and rumor-inducing) and with their music, which sometimes seems free of any human element, as if it were just a brainchild of elaborate algorithms and generative processes.

HDDN’s vision feels purposefully unprofessional, off-beat, low-profile, and sometimes downright sloppy, but it possesses a hell of an atmosphere. It’s a slowly unfolding adventure, and at almost two hours long, it can be an excruciating and challenging listening experience, full of rusted, low-key techno and shady melodies that are like the sonic equivalent of some guy who wants to sell you drugs at the back of the club. The B0YS acknowledge and justify the unusual length in the liner notes:

Album is long, more than 100 minutes. Many will say that in our present ADHD, constant stream jump and all-short-attention-span times such endless album is just a pure madness. What can i say - only brave people will save the universe, or at least will stay tall. And most of all - can you imagine serious interplanetary trip being the short one? I want to go, back and forth, many times. Travel is one of the best things in our short lives. I want to touch it.

But the music of RSS B0YS is not as much an escape as it is an exit, the best part being the fact they don’t always follow the same structures. Sometimes the track will begin crumbling halfway in, at other times a track won’t even form a full rhythm or melody in favor of a series of glitches. It’s a bit similar to the approach of Actress’s Ghettoville, but while Cunningham’s effort was a downer urban panorama limited by concrete towers and cracked asphalt, HDDN is much more playful and experimental while retaining the same dark mood and lo-fi aesthetics. It’s an album that crafts a new sonic map out of hard electronic beats, distorted washes of synth, and occasional, vaguely exotic references dotting the landscape, never distracting from its own open-structured, loose ideas. RSS B0YS don’t really give a shit whether you like them or not; they just keep making music they enjoy — and if you happen to enjoy it too, all the better.

Links: RSS B0YS - Mik.Musik.!./BDTA

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