Despite having a fairly select following online, the name Forced Random is being mentioned more and more in recent months – among praise from several smaller indie blogs, NME’s Under The Radar section featured the London lo-fi collective, describing their sound as “a somnolent and heavily anaesthetised trip down the sinkhole of introspection”.
Listening to new track ‘I May Believe In Me’, released prior to their headline show in London on March 1st, it’s easy to see what’s attracting people. The fragility of singer and leader Oliver Girdler's vocals is certainly part of the appeal – the soft shiver is somehow unstable yet comfortable, bringing a kind of stuttering warmth to the track. The repeated line ‘I May Believe In Me’ is testament to that: an uplifting, but ever so slightly hesitant hook.
While some elements of the track retain the hallmark of the classic lo-fi sound – Girdler’s voice, for example, is hushed, and sits right on the edge of your ear, and the slight fuzz of radio static always lingers – much of ‘I May Believe In Me’ delves into lush production and bigger orchestration. The introduction of hovering string lines, coupled with the clarity of the guitar sound, makes this slow, simple song a very interesting proposition. The repeated chorus and subtle build-up of instrumentation brings an anthemic sensibility to the whole track; in fact, if you listen to some of Forced Random’s earlier work, you’ll hear a similarly epic build to almost all the tracks released.
The final two minutes of the song are fascinating, and could be examined as a track by itself, as all boundaries and expectations set by Girdler are done away with, and things begin to break down to the extent that you can almost feel each particle of the track float away from each other. This cosmic ending is not only a huge dose of musical perspective, but also shows the possibilities and capabilities that Forced Random possess. The beauty of uncertainty is reinforced when a spoken voice mutters "Ok, next time" into nothingness. Whatever ‘next time’ is, you can be sure that Forced Random won’t want you to second-guess them – a powerfully exciting trait for musicians to have.
See Forced Random live at Servant Jazz Quarters on March 1st.