How many bands who claim to be “experimental” actually…you know…experiment – as opposed to those who just use a couple dissonant chords and a few effects pedals? Unfortunately, not many. But, powerhouse bands like Billy Bao make up for all that is lacking in the realm of so-called experimental music. Billy Bao is infamous in industrial and noise rock circles for their truly unpredictable and challenging releases, the likes of which are practically unparalleled. Over the course of their existence as a band, they’ve consistently upped the ante, pushing themselves farther into the abstract and unsettling. And now, with their latest, and most ambitious (de)composition, Lagos Sessions, they have crossed yet another threshold.
Lagos Sessions is a sonic nightmare; in the best way possible, obviously. Over the course of the 2xLP, the listener is assaulted with a plethora of unnerving soundscapes, electronic noise, spoken word pieces, field recordings, dub, hip hop, jazz, noise rock, and confusing combinations of these and more; much of this is all thanks to a long list of collaborators Billy Bao brought into the studio with them. And it’s not just randomly cobbled together, the entire album is incredibly calculated and revolves around conveying to the listener what a visit to Lagos would feel like. This is done through the use of four separate sound collages over the course of an hour – one for each side of the 2xLP. It’s a jarring experience which is both baffling and engaging; and overall totally immersive. Lagos Sessions is the kind of album that requires multiple listens; not just because it’s good enough to warrant coming back again and again (which it is), but because it’s overwhelming to the point that it’s going to take a few listens to really let the entirety of Billy Bao’s mad genius fully sink in. You’ll definitely realize how ingenious this is during the first listen, but each time you go back you’ll pick up more and more.
It may be a fairly basic comparison, but Billy Bao’s body of work really brings to mind industrial pioneers such as SPK, Nurse With Wound, Clock DVA, Boyd Rice/NON, and others, both conceptually and musically (or non-musically as is more the case), and because of their willingness to take risks by exploring ideas to their extremes. In a world over-saturated with bands who don’t really “get it,” Billy Bao is dishing out a lesson in the truly weird, and the rest of us need to take notes. But don’t take my word for it, you can stream this bad boy below. You might want to sit down for this one.