Stian Gjevik has never been one to conform to electronic music trends and his work as EOD is born largely from isolation, on Norway’s west coast. In 2018 however as the popular tide in club music shifted towards broken beats, Electro and IDM and labels like CPU and bbbbbbb rose to prominence, EOD’s music too found an audience beyond the introverted, and insular experimental electronic music circles he moved in. Artists like EOD and those labels mentioned were suddenly, and inadvertently sounding the clarion call for a new generation of fans flocking to and then from the dusty archives of Warp records.
Appearing in the middle of this frenzied media melée, his 2018 Named LP on Bjarki’s bbbbbbb imprint, had unwittingly captured the zeitgeist of the period with its abstract rhtyhms and alien glitches, in one of the most ingenuitive albums of that year. Breaking ranks with the perfunctory demands of the dance floor and electronic music, EOD had siphoned unwieldy elements of IDM, breakbeat and Electro, in a sound that brought electronic music back to the cognitive realm and established something more interesting in the margins of electronic music, undermining the popular mainstream that become complacent. Analogue pieces contorting in a quantum space, spit out pieces that come together like fragments of shattered glass reconstituted in a time lapse video playing in reverse. At times unruly and erratic (s’blood Thou Stinkard) and at times rapturously beautiful (Y’ha-nthlei), Named had installed EOD as one of the more unique producers and artists working within rhythm-based electronic music.
Exploring the fringes of the dance floor, Gjevik has been prolific in releasing records since his first in 2007. Although never quite reaching the level of Aphex Twin’s soundcloud page, various full length releases compiling an extensive back catalogue of previously unreleased records, like 2016’s EODS, contains a fair few hours of recorded material. Even so, there has always been something concise in EOD’s releases, whether a theme or a sound underpinning records, beyond the self-indulgent enterprise of recording every musical whim. From the whimsical taunts of Named to the lysergic charm of Volume 1 (Rephlex), there’s little that dissuades EOD’s pursuits as he continues to deliver a catalogue that runs the gamut of experimental electronic music, and his latest is no different, no matter how inconsequential.
Thus, ¤ comes in what appears to be a direct response to the coronavirus pandemic and while it’s uncertain whether all this music was created in the past week, you couldn’t put it past EOD judging from his output. The EP title and track titles all share the same cartoonish viral symbol, like he didn’t have time to come up with names for individual pieces and a post on the artist’s Facebook page suggested it was hurried upload, with the incorrect version of the last track initially coming out. It all adds to the artist’s DIY intrigue, but while the delivery might be unconventional, the execution remains consistent with his work, and EOD retains that elusive fervour and self-effacing playfulness that dots his entire catalogue.
There’s always been something of a hurried approach to his music, made in the impulsive moment, which ¤ maintains with no grand narratives or extensive themes developing through the tracks. Tracks leap more than they evolve, in sudden, imprudent changes around a central melodic hook, which usually contorts and mutates as each passes through the bit-crushing wormhole that constitutes EOD’s unknown creative process. The sonic palette is curious on this latest EP, as a definitive tropical theme emerges throughout the first half of the record with elements of steel drums and wooden mallet percussion echoing against an artificial electronic backdrop that grows through the cyberspace like digital mycelium.
A virtual island paradise emerges by the third track as EOD colates his schizophrenic sonic indulgences around a stuttering dub rhythm. By the second half of the EP however, the sparkling hollow tones and visions of EOD’s tropical elysium is supplanted with the cold glitching aesthetic that has dominated his work in recent years. On the fifth track we find echoes of the brilliance of Y’ha-nthlei, before it falls off the edge and disappears into the squirming, erratic microcosm of rhythmical noise. There’s no mistaking the artist behind the work as you reach the end and EOD’s distinctive approach in finding something engaging in the viral noise of chaotic rhythms that stays the course on ¤.
It’s over the first three tracks however, where Gjevik follows a tangent in his work that sets ¤ apart from his previous releases. There is always something unique to be found in each EOD record and this one is no different, maintaining that strange fluidity, where no two EOD records sound alike. It’s something few artists working in the same aesthetic often achieve, and it’s even more impressive with EOD; a remarkable accomplishment for such a prolific artist.