Posts Tagged ‘Remixes’

Front & Follow – 25th November 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Longtime Aural Aggro faves Front & Follow have delivered the third in their series of truly immense Rental Yields compilations, with another twenty-five tracks of remixed works which showcase the community spirit they espouse as a label and among those in its orbit.

They describe it as ‘a multi-release collaboration project raising money to tackle homelessness in Manchester… Inspired (if that’s the right word – perhaps ‘motivated’…) by our current housing system, the project encourages artists to steal (or borrow, nicely) from another artist to create their own new track – in the process producing HIGH RENTAL YIELDS. Over 100 artists are now involved (the spreadsheet is fun), each one tasked with creating a new track from the sounds created by someone else – we are then collating the tracks and releasing them over the course of the next year.’

Some would describe the project as ambitious, others as simply crackers, and it’s likely both in equal measure, but this is why we love F&F. That, and the fact that they seem of have a knack for attracting and releasing interesting artists who exist far beyond the peripheries of any kid of commercial radar (or even most alternative radars).

This compilation really does make the most of the medium: unrestrained by the limits of vinyl, cassette or CD, and has a playing time of about a week. Yes, I exaggerate, but the point is, each contribution is the length it needs to be, or the artist feels it ought to be, rather than cut or constrained, meaning that while a fair few pieces sit around the five minute mark, the Decommissioned Forests vs Pulselovers rendition of ‘Rental Yields’ runs for nine minutes and forty-four seconds, ahead of the ten-minute workout that is IVY NOSTRUM vs The Snaps Jar’s ‘AND MONEY LESS’ and a few other six- and seven-minute monsters.

But what is time, anyway, and what’s it for? As much as it’s a measure of time, it’s a tool by which lives are ordered, limited, constrained, controlled. The vast majority are paid work by the hour, not by output, and time on the clock is not your time, but your employer’s. You don’t own your time, and you don’t own your space, and you give your time to some company who profit from your time and output in order to pay for a roof over your head, a space to eat and sleep, for the profit of a landlord or a bank you owe tens, even hundreds of thousands.

How often do you hear people shrug about their shit jobs saying ‘well, it pays the rent’. Imagine lying on your deathbed, reflecting on a lifetime of drudgery to say ‘I paid the rent’, while your landlord’s spent their life living it up in restaurants and on overseas holidays and celebrating their success because you’ve paid their rent too.

Audio Obscura VS Secret Nuclear’s ‘Vacant Period’ opens the album with an apposite sample from a TV show discussing gross and net yield before embarking on a glitchy, flickering journey of droning industrial Krautrock, and paves the way for an extensive and magnificent-curated collection of variant forms of ambience. Pettaluck Vs Giant Head’s ‘Dot to Dot’ is disorientation yet soothing and hypnotic – and fucking strange. But we like strange, and Front & Follow provide plenty.

If it’s a long, long listening journey of crackling stating, looming darkness, bleeps, bloops, and extraneous noise intercut with snippets of radio, film, and TV, and ultimately forges an immense intertext of sources.

Sometimes it’s swampy, eerie, tense, others it’s quite mellow and finds a subtle groove, but Rental Yields is unyieldingly brilliant, both in terms of range and quality. And you really can’t go wrong for a fiver – the worthy cause is simply a bonus.

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Bearsuit Records – 21st October 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

To recap on a long and often retold tale of mine: I love weird shit, but I’m not quite so mad keen on remixes – unless they’re inventive and interesting. So what to make of a remix album of Eamon the Destroyer’s A Small Blue Car?

When I reviewed the album on its release back in November of last year – which barely feels like three months ago, let Alone the best part of a year – I was perhaps ambiguous in my appreciation, describing it as ‘downbeat’, gloomy’, and ‘soporific’. It is very much all of these things, but these are reasons to appreciate this understated collection of songs, with their lo-fi bedroom production style being integral to the Eamon the Destroyer listening experience as he rasps away darkly to aa droning backdrop in a crackle of distortion

One frequent niggle with remix sets is the repetition, but here, only a handful of tracks appear twice, with three interpretations of ‘My Drive’, which is fair enough having been the lead single, and dispersed among sixteen tracks in total, it doesn’t feel like overkill.

The reimaginations of the original songs certainly capture their spirit and essence, from the stop/start glitchy gloopiness of the wandering Like this Parade remix of ‘Nothing Like Anything’ to the longer, more abstract reworkings, like the six-and-a-half-minute festival or reverb and cavernous slow-mo, downturned echo that is Société Cantine remix of ‘Tomahjawk Den’ that’s as experimental as you like and quite disturbing in places, to Michael Valentine West’s seven minute spin on ‘My Drive’, A Small Blue Car – Re-Made / Remodelled is the definition of eclecticism. There’s low-level pulsating electronica and swerves into electronic chamber pop, against ambient electro and scraping industrial noise.

Yponeko brings swirling synths and grating distortion together in a drowning space-rock drift, while MVW deconstructs ‘My Drive’ to a junkyard of spare parts that’s somehow elegant and delicate as well as a wheezing, droning hum that wheezes and groans.

There are no obvious rehashings here, no lazy no-effort remixes that do the usual thing of whacking a booming beat behind the original. In fact, there are absolutely no stonking beats, techno or disco remixes here: these are all most sensitive to the original intent. Sometimes there are beats – as on the thrumming Ememe remix of ‘Avalanche’, but it’s a stuttering wall of drilling noise, ploughing into a mess of glitching loops, a mangled cut-up collage of sound – and often there are not: The Moth Poet’s take on ‘Slow Motion Fade’ is nightmarishly dark, a whirling churn of sound, which drifts into sepulchral opera at the end

Across the course of the album, there’s a lot of cut-and-paste splicing galore, resulting in an ever-shifting sonic collage, and John 3:16 brings gloomy, stark industrial to ‘Humanity id Coming’. House of Tapes turn ‘My Drive’ into a throbbing grunge beast, with additional helium. It’s hard to imagine anything further removed from the original, and that includes Halai’s twisted tribal techno take on the same song.

Alongside one another, it should all amount to a horrible mess, but is, in fact, an absolute triumph, because this is exactly how it should be: Eamon the Destroyer’s original work was a kaleidoscope of darkly disorientating oddity, and this revisitation is more of the same, only different. It’s unlikely to land any spins in nightclubs across the land, and even less likely to find any of the tracks landing Radio 1 playlisting, and it’s even unlikely to win many new fans – but then again, Eamon’s acquired some admirably influential fans, and moreover, that’s not really the ambition for any artist releasing work through Bearsuit. And it’s so refreshing when so much emphasis is placed on not just sakes, but airplay, streams on Spotify, and likes and followers on various platforms, that there are still those who value artistic freedom and exploration above all else.

A Small Blue Car – Re-Made / Remodelled is a source of pleasure, not only because it’s genuinely interesting, but simply because it exists.

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6th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

This latest four-tracker from Panic Lift continues the trajectory of themed EPs that it’s been pursuing for a while now.

With two new cuts and a remix of each, it’s reminiscent of the old-school 7” and 12” formats, and ‘Every Broken Piece’ accompanied by ‘Bitter Cold’ would make for a perfect 7”, with the additional tracks – remixes respectively from Mechanical Vein and Tragic Impulse – fleshing out a 12” and CD… Such reminiscences are relevant because Panic Lift’s harsh industrial dance sound is rooted in the 90s when multi-format releases were de rigueur. Much as they were clearly a way of milking fans and boosting chart positions, I do kind of miss those days, since the majority of releases don’t even come in a physical format.

For Stitched, James Francis, aka Panic Lift, revisits the kind of sound that defined his debut, Witness To Our Collapse, and talking of the physical, there’s a strong physicality to both ‘Every Broken Piece’ and ‘Bitter Cold’ – not just their thumping hard as nails grooves and pounding beats, but the overall density of the sound hits with a physical impact, while the forced, rasping vocals equally hit hard, the sound of anguish and rage and a host of mixed and conflicting emotions aflame.

‘Every Broken Piece’ was a feature of Panic Lift’s online performances during lockdown, and it’s from this place of inner turmoil that these songs emerge, with the accompanying notes pointing out that they ‘continue with the familiar themes of stress, coping, and concerns of self-image’, and the rippling synth lines, juxtaposed against snarling, abrasive vocals, are the perfect expression of internal conflict. There’s a lot going on here in the arrangements, with churning metal guitar grazing against cinematic synths, and the slower chorus on ‘Bitter Cold’ brings impact by contrast.

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14th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Was I the only one to misread the band’s name on first seeing it? Probably, and I suspect it says more about me than anything. Ah well. Meanwhile, as much as the quality of the band’s new single speaks for itself, the list of collaborators who’ve contributed remixes to this EP says a fair bit about the Chicago ‘post-punk demolition duo’, notably Stabbing Westward and Dean Garcia of Curve / SPC ECO.

It’s the Stabbing Westward remix that’s up first, and it’s a stonking industrial rock chugger. It has a crisp, bright feel and is driven by an explosive snare, the likes of which you rarely hear now, but was popular in the 80s. Of the different versions, it’s arguably the most radical, yet at the same time is also the one with the broadest commercial appeal, in that it is more overtly industrial and metal-edged.

Structurally, the song’s interesting for the fact it consists of several sections rather than a simple verse / chorus, and as each section rolls around, it develops something of a cyclical feel (I usually tend to feel most songs are a linear listening experience. ‘Confusion’ and ‘confusion’ make for a nice rhyming pair, but it’s the bass that’s as strong a hook as any of the lyrics, and it’s the bass that dominates the band’s own single version, which adds ten seconds to the original, which appeared on the Dead Lights five tracker released last year. Said bass is a shuddering low-frequency grind, and the drum machine tips a nod to ‘Blue Monday’ then goes into overdrive, giving the song a real urgency.

The DG Impulse remix grinds harder and longer, stripping it back to the bare bones of that sonorous bass and a pounding beat, to oppressive effect, while the IScintilla Remix is a full-on rabid aggrotech workout, and pretty nightmarish with it.

In contrast, the Loveless Love take on the track plays to the songs 80s electropop roots, coming on like The Human League remixed by JG Thirlwell or Raymond Watts.

It makes for a varied listening experience, and one that marks a neat evolution from the band’s previous releases to date.

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21st January 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Slowburn’ is, true to the title’s promise, a slow-burner, and as a single, it’s solid – not immediate, but appreciation evolves with repeat plays. The track itself is, in many respects, very much in the darkwave tradition, with cold synths and equally cold, almost monotone vocals that also carry an ethereal quality.

There’s a mesmerising, hypnotic quality to the original song, which, we learn is ‘a song about passion; passion- a deep love/emotion that consumes body and soul. It is about depth of feeling for a person, place, process or thing.’ Against brooding piano and backed-off beat, it calls to mind Jarboe-era Swans and some of her solo work, in no small part due to Cat Hall’s powerful but understated vocal.

Cat explains the origins of the song as follows: “I wrote this as I was considering the many all-consuming passions of my life. Passion to write. Passion for art. Passion for nature, for the planet. Passion for science. Passion for humanity. Passion for the individuals I love. Also, the painful realization that despite my intense feeling, actions and orchestrations, these things, places, people, and processes come to an end. I come to an end. My passions die with me.”

Our passions drive us and keep us alive, and without passions, what have we and what is life? And what passion is there in a set of remixes?

My standard complaints around remix EPs are that they’re essentially lazy and eke out the smallest amount of material for the most physical space, and that they’re something of a short-change for fans; then there’s the fact they’re often really, really tedious, with the same track or tracks piled back to back and mostly sounding not very different apart from either being more dancy or dubby. This set is a rare success, in that the remixes are so eclectic and diverse half of them don’t sound like the same song, but without doing that whole thing of deconstructing it so hard with ambient / techno / dub versions that there’s nothing left of the original in the versions – another bugbear.

The Von Herman Lava Lamp Mix piles on the soul and sounds like Depeche Mode circa Ultra, while the Kirchner Charred Mix is a straight-ahead, thumping electrogoth dancefloor-ready banger. The Haze Void Mix cranks up the grind, with oscillating electronics more akin to Suicide than any contemporary act. This is the biggest, densest, and most transformative reworking of the lot, venturing into space rock territory as it thuds an d rattles, twisting the vocals against an urgent, throbbing sonic backdrop and throwing in some hints of Eastern mysticism for good measure. It’s an intense experience. The Hiereth Lonely to a Cinder mix brings some brooding piano and even harder hammering beats, landing it somewhere between the Floodland-era sound of The Sisters of Mercy and that quintessential Wax Trax! technoindustrial sound.

It’s a corking single, and as remix sets go, this is a good one.

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3rd December 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

If there’s ever been an emerging theme across music of all genres in the last year and a half, it’s isolation. Yes, if a global pandemic has achieved one thing, it’s brought everyone together in their feelings of isolation.

And so it is that we learn that the tracks on Graceful Isolation ‘address the feelings of isolation and coming to terms with new norms that the past year has brought. The title is derived from the fact that over the course of the album, none of the collaborators were ever in the same room.

One could counteract that in creating an album featuring numerous collaborations (notably Kimberly Kornmeier of brooding orchestral electro goth act Bow Ever Down on vocals on three songs, but also a slew of remixers), Dave McAnally has been far from alone despite being forced to work in physical isolation, yielding an album that demonstrates that distance is no object and geography is a state of mind, even if it is no substitute for proximity.

‘Poison My Skin’ makes for an atmospheric opener, with stark, minimal synths and drum machine providing a cold backdrop. ‘You’re never gonna touch me again’, Kimberly croons in a detached, robotic monotone, with subtle hints of Siouxsie, while giving voice to the thoughts that have echoed around my head that there are likely many people I have seen, heard, and been in the presence of for the last time in my life. I don’t miss the office, I don’t miss the people I used to work alongside in that artificial, uncomfortable, unnatural space, and yet… well, none of us expected that way of life to be curtailed, and certainly not in the way it was, an instant switch-off. March 2020, on being told to go home to work, I never anticipated being away more than a few weeks. And here we are… people have moved on; people have left; people are no longer with us. It’s been a long and painful couple of years.

‘All the Pieces’ and in particular ‘Impossible Dreams’ are stripped-back and sparse in their arrangements – not quite demos, but certainly skeletal, with stuttering drum machines providing the brittle spine to the songs. The lack of flesh on the bones is integral to the appeal here.

‘Drowning in the Past’ and ‘Illusions’ are tense, queasy in their taut atmosphere. McAnally resumes vocal duties, and said vocals are pegged low in the mix, compressed, accentuating the dislocation and distance. The former pegs a particularly expansive guitar solo to some nagging synths and comes on like a proggy James Ray, and it’s some good shit if you’re on the market for dark, gothy electropop.

My only niggle – surprisingly or perhaps not so much – would be that the thirteen tracks on the album consist of only five individual songs, and with three mixes of ‘All The Pieces’ slap bang in the middle, in addition to the original version, plus three versions of ‘Drowning in the Past’ it’s does get a little bit repetitive, and it may have worked better as an EP and a remix EP rather than a full-length album in its own right. Put another way, I’d play the grooves off the EP, but would probably only spin the remixes every now and again – not because they’re poor remixes, but because the original cuts hang together so well, it feels like a fully-realised document that requires no adornment.

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17th December 2021

James Wells

Pieces is the second in a projected series of five EPs, and on the face of it, it’s an immense undertaking: this release contains five tracks, and its predecessor four. Across the project, that’s a full two albums worth of material… until you clock that half of the tracks are remixes. Not that that’s a criticism per se, and I won’t revisit my eternal remix peeve yet again here, because no doubt readers are as sick of that as I am of remixes as a thing.

So ‘Pieces’ is in effect a single, comprising of ‘Disease of Kings’ and ‘Failure Principle’, bolstered by a brace of remixes of the former and one of the latter. ‘Disease of Kings’ is a in some respects a surprising choice of lead song, in that it’s a slow, brooding cut with expansive, cinematic synths casting an arena-wide vista over the reflective mood. It’s well-executed and emotionally charged, but the vocal treatment – namely a fuckload of autotune on the verses – is perhaps a little overdone and reduces the impact of the song’s kick-to-the-chest sincerity. It’s a fine choon, but maybe a fraction too produced and polished and even a little bit Emo, where a slightly rawer edge would have bitten harder.

‘Failure Principle’ is geared toward the mid-tempo, with quintessential dance tropes in full effect, with nagging synth loops rippling over and over an insistent dancefloor-friendly beat. While still featuring the core elements of techoindustrial, it carries a keenly commercial style.

The Assemblage 23 Remix of ‘Failure Principle’ is a standout by virtue of the way in which is accentuates the track’s danciness and general catchiness, bordering on euphoric dance which seems somewhat at odds with the lyrical content. But then, the medium is not necessarily the message, and there’s something to be said for slipping darkness in under the cover of light. In that sense, it works, although the extent to which suggesting any song by an industrial act has mainstream crossover potential and a broad appeal is questionable.

Rounding off the EP, the KALCYFR Remix of ‘Disease of Kings’ beings some fuck-off dirty great guitars and grinding bass to the party and comes on way more Nine Inch Nails, and tempers the vaguely emo leanings of the original and GenCAB remix.

The ‘limited-edition PANIC LIFT FACE MASK to accompany you on your journeys through the current post-apocalyptic landscape’ is a nice touch, too – because we need some nice things to help us navigate living through the reality of all of the dystopian fictional futures becoming reality all at once.

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COP International – 5th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

This is a blast from the past. Ungod was one of those albums that really grabbed hard when I encountered it on release back in 94. They were exciting times, and even the most cursory scan of album charts or any lists of albums released in 94 evidence what an incredible year it was. But that was simply the time, that brief spell in the early 90s where a whole host of new alternative styles emerged and broke through.

With three versions of ‘I Am Nothing’, this EP very much has the feel of CD single releases from the 90s – something I can’t help but feel ambivalent about. Major labels were particularly guilty of this, keen to eke out as many formats and releases from material as possible (preferring to release a second album than an album’s worth of B-sides across singles and EPs).

‘I am Nothing’ in its original album form is a full-gritted beast of a tune, driven by a dense, snarling bass rattle and a phat, sludged-out guitar riff. With a strong chorus – dare I even say anthemic – it’s vintage Stabbing Westward (and the choice of John Fryer, who produced their first 2 records, may have contrinbuted to this).

Chris Hall’s ‘Replicant 2021’ remix goes all-out on the industrial disco groove, and while it’s got that dancefloor-friendly rush about it, it strips out much of the power of the original in favour of making it something to bounce along to. Go Fight’s ‘Taiko Sludge Remix’ is slower, more paired back yet more detailed, and also moodier-sounding, making it the more interesting of the two mixes by some margin.

The three versions are wrapped up with a ‘2021’ remake of ‘Slipping Away’, the final track from their 1996 sophomore album, Wither Blister Burn & Peel. A minute shorter than the original, it places the emphasis very much on the synths aspect of the sound; if the original was reminiscent of Downward Spiral ­era Nine Inch Nails, this reworking is more Pretty Hate Machine. Propelled by a stomping beat, it’s got no shortage of attack, and it will be interesting to hear the direction of the forthcoming album, Chasing Ghosts.

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Consolidated, the political dance/industrial music band from the early 90ties reunited for a studio sessions in San Francisco last summer that resulted in a new album We’re Already There and now a series of remixes. The first one was released on 10th May: "Capitalism (Lonesome Rider Remix)". Listen here:

The remixes are being commissioned and released by the Austin, Texas-based eMERGENCY heARTS label, being issued two weeks, beginning last month. The release series culminates in September in conjunction with Consolidated’s live performances at the Cold Waves Festival in Chicago September 24. Remixers include R34L and avant-dub visionary Adrian Sherwood who both have their own projects coming out on eMERGENCY heARTS this year. I hope you’ll consider covering this release with a feature interview, news story or track review.

The main musicians on the original sessions were Adam Sherburne (guitar/vocals) and Mark Pistel (synths/beats) backed by Lynn Farmer (Meat Beat Manifesto) on drums, who replaces the original Consolidated drummer Phil Steir. We’re Already Th was recorded, mixed and mastered by Mark Pistel at ‘Room 5’ in San Francisco. These recordings are an innovative mix of danceable Industrial, jams, Hip-hop, Rock and funky Pop performed on a mixture of live instruments and electronics, topped with radical Left-Wing activist lyrics.

Consolidated was and is now again, an American radical activist music group. Their original line-up consisted of Adam Sherburne (guitar and vocals), Mark Pistel (samples, sequencers and keyboards/synths), and Philip Steir (drums). They formed in 1988 and first gained notoriety as an Alternative Dance/Industrial music band. Between 1989 and 1994, their instrumental style progressed from Industrial, to Hip-hop, to Hard Rock/Funk. They stood out from most of their contemporaries owing to their bold embrace of overtly topical lyrics as part of a determined Left-leaning political agenda, as well as their ground-breakinge sonic collages, blending Industrial and Hip-hop styles.

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Nova Alternativa – 16th April 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The two Ks are Gintas K & Jan Kruml, and Environmental Framework is a collaborative work, whereby, as the liner notes outline, Jan worked with the historically first and last track that Gintas published. Gintas reworked tracks from Jan’s (Instinct Primal) live set from January 2021.

But rather than simply rendering this as an album of two sides, which would be perhaps the obvious approach, but instead, the seven tracks are sequenced with A1-A2-A4-B1 composed by JK, remixed by GK, and A3-B2-B3 composed by GK, remixed by JK.

Bring unfamiliar with Jan Kruml’s work, and having not heard the live set in question, it’s difficult to judge just how radically Gintas K has reworked the pieces here, but the remixes 1 and 3 of ‘Myths’, with their combined running time of ten minutes are sparse, spacious, and unsettling, as an elongated droning drift hangs, conjuring n eerie atmosphere. Incidental echoes and flickers, barely-present crackles of static rise and fall, fading in and out of the mist almost subliminally, but growing thicker and denser and more layered over time in the first, before transitioning into the explosive digital sloshing that is something of a signature for Gintas K. If this raises the question of the extent to which a remix can become more the work of the remixer than the original artist, here it’s worth commenting that it does work well, and places a complimentary light on Kruml’s sounds, and the way in which Jan approaches the ‘Noisebient RMX’ of ‘Phono’ very much returns the favour as it presents a clamorous babbling microtonal rush against a broad sweep backdrop.

The first remix of ‘Entering the Cave’ (which is in fact Remix 4) is hectic, a busy bubbling rush of sound that recreates that vintage analogue froth, only on a cocktail of steroids and speeds – amped-up and foaming away at a blizzard’s pace. Remix 1, which immediately follows, is altogether more low-key, shadowy, manifesting as a rumbling, grumbling ominous ambience. It’s dank, dark, and very much does evoke the scene of the title.

As the liner notes point out, ‘they never met in person, but sonically it’s like if they knew each other for decades’ – and certainly, there is a keen sense of intuition displayed here, as the two artists seemingly become interchangeable in their works.

It’s drone that defines Kruml’s remix of ‘Almost the End’, which is, fittingly, the penultimate track, before he revisits the ‘Noisebient’ theme for the epic span of the album’s bookending ‘Invite Round For A Cup Of Tea’, which strains and clamours and whirs in a flurry of granular tonality for over ten minutes. If it’s familiar territory for Gintas K, it equally highlights how at ease Jan Kruml is with this type of electronica, and despite its segregated origins, the remixing process has given the material a sense of unity that renders Environmental Framework a remarkably cohesive work that actually feels like ‘an album’ rather than a bunch of remixes. A true artistic triumph.

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