Few music projects in the internet age may ever garner more interest and rabid speculation regarding their next move as Death Grips has, especially around the 2014 — 2015 time period. When they “broke up” back in July of 2014, effectively pulling out as the opening act for a massive Soundgarden/ Ninch Inch Nails co-headlining tour and a spot at Fun, Fun, Fun Fest (for the second year), it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone that had been even moderately following the Sacramento experimental hardcore noise-rap trio’s career — this wasn’t exactly the first tour that they had booked and then bailed out on. The most surprising announcement that may ever come out of the DG camp was actually when they signed a major label 2 album deal with EPIC records in 2012. The problem was that they were incredibly focused on putting both of those albums out within that same year, so when the label explained that they had absolutely no intentions of releasing No Love Deep Web until 2013, the group said “fuck it” and leaked the digital version online themselves, complete with an image of the album title scrawled in sharpie across drummer/producer, Zach Hill‘s, erect penis as the cover art. That move… honestly, not too surprising. Discovering that Robert “Edward from Twilight” Pattison contributed guitar work for a track on their following album, Government Plates… actually, fairly surprising. The more orthodox they behaved, the more left field it was. Sometimes, if they showed up for a concert it was almost more surprising than if they didn’t. There’s a reason that, when they claimed to have disbanded, most hardcore fans were wisely skeptical that they had really split up at all, and that’s not just because a month prior to the announcement, Death Grips dropped 8 new tracks (featuring vocal work by Bjork woven and buried into the mix) under the collective title of Niggas On The Moon, which was being presented as the first half of the then-upcoming double album, The Powers That B, which they still promised to finish. Waiting for the second half — titled, Jenny Death — and hunting down what seemed like endless clues, until it arrived, definitely kept folks busy, though.
Throughout that crazy waiting period, the group toyed with fans by resurrecting their Facebook page for random posts; resurrecting their Twitter presence under an alternate account that became difficult to decipher whether or not it was official, propelled by cryptic imagery/clues that would only later prove to have significance; and even dropping the completely unannounced instrumental effort, Fashion Week, featuring a track-list that spelled out what had, by that point, become a widely adopted phrase/inquiry “JENNY DEATH WHEN?” Then, in February of 2015, they released a video of themselves performing in a practice space accompanied by nothing more than a single word “Today.” About a week before Powers That B was released at the end of March 2015, a full tour had already been announced.
In June of that year, a download link for an album called I’ve Always Been Good At True Love by a project calling themselves The I.L.Y’s was tweeted out and hosted on the official Death Grips website. With the band back together releasing new material and touring, the obsessive sleuthing had, more or less, died down, but everyone was already trained for it and the speculations began flowing all over again, albeit to a much lesser extent. Who the fuck were these guys, and why/how was Death Grips connected to it? Eventually, it was revealed to be a side project of Hill (vocals, keyboards, guitar, drums, producer) and DG producer, Andy Morin (guitar, bass, and engineer) — essentially, Death Grips minus the raw booming vocal contributions of frontman, Stefan “Ride” Burnett. There were similarities with some of the DG work — specifically, in the distorted production, driving synths, and swirling chaotic nature — but this was clearly a new direction and a completely different venture all its own. Last year, it was followed by Scum With Boundaries, an LP that sounded substantially more focused and less thrown together than the previous effort, showcasing new levels of depth, experimentation, and variety, overall. Mostly overlooked, Scum With Boundaries brought presented new instrumentation, incorporating melody and more orthodox songwriting in unorthodox ways, and separated The I.L.Y.’s even further from what Death Grips has done sonically; enough so, that it was allowed to step out of the shadows and present itself as a legitimate project with it’s own intriguing qualities and some truly remarkable range. If that second album had been released among the hype that preceded their first, perhaps it would have had a life that carried it a little further than the one it received.
Three weeks ago, the I.L.Y’s started an instagram page, which most people still don’t seem to be aware of. A week after that, they used it to post an image of both the front and back covers for an upcoming release titled, Bodyguard, along with the full track listing. With the following week came a quick audio sample and then another, the latter involving a haunting snippet of some minimalist piano. More than something strictly to fill the void during Death Grips downtime, The I.L.Y’s have become a project that I’m truly anticipating hearing more from and, with their own official website featuring videos, social media links, and even a spot for “show dates,” it’s clear that there’s some genuine energy behind this — at least, for now — and, hopefully, some fascinating stuff on the horizon.
Today, The I.L.Y’s release a new video for two of the songs off of Bodyguard: “Gargoyle” and “Bobo,” the 3rd and 9th tracks, respectively. The first half of the video is for “Gargoyle” and involves Zach Hill wearing soiled briefs while being tased, hosed in the face, placed in a choke hold, and being all-around abused by a woman who is reprimanding him for defying her orders — in this case, going outside of the gate without permission. It begins with Hill covered entirely in shaving cream and sporting an illuminated lampshade over his head, mirroring the revealed Bodyguard back-cover art; and ends with him being fed from a bottle that appears to be filled with LED lights. Somehow, the second half for “Bobo” might be even weirder. Check it out below and make sure to keep an eye on these characters. Things are just starting to get interesting.