Posts Tagged ‘Remixes’

Bearsuit Records – 14th July 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

The Bearsuit philosophy is, to the best of my understanding, essentially built round a l’aissez-faire approach to experimentalism and collaboration. Stuff happens, when it happens, as it happens. Sometimes it happens without input or collaboration. And it’s all fine as long as it’s not mainstream. Truth is, nothing any of the Bearsuit acts could produce in a million lifetimes would ever even hint at mainstream aspirations. The reason I’ve been a personal advocate of the label and its output for a while now is simply because they do what they so, and don’t give a crap about trends, commercialism, or anything else. As I wrote the other day, albeit in a slightly different context: it’s for the love, not the money.

The label’s latest release sees Haq (the alter-ego of another Bearsuit would-be legend, Harold Nono) return. Five years on from the ‘Nocturnals’ album, this EP offers three remixes frm the album, plus two new cuts.

Lead track ‘Antics in a Maze’ moves far beyond the avant-trip-hop leanings of its predecessor and froths with fanciful flights of incongruity, and brims with an air of otherness. Breathy vocals waft over drifting, trilling swathes of gauze-like synth, crossed with bursts of odd electronica, deep dub and driving drum ‘n’ bass. Warped snippets of thee tunes for fictional TV shows and films from the 70s and 80s emerge fleetingly for the ever-shifting compositional aneurysm.

‘Norvell’ is the second new cut: with sonorous, brooding synths and rich, layered strings that sweep and tug at the tear ducts, as well as percussion that simultaneously clatters and thunders, it’s a dissonant and haunting work that straddles industrial, goth and shoegaze, with hints of Cranes and a messed-up air of dark beauty about its detached, haunting evocativeness.

The remixes are varied, in terms of style, interest and significance – but at least they are varied. Senji Niban’s remix of ‘Are You the Elephant’ thumps along insistently, a far cry from the slightly eerie, chilled original, while The Autumna remix of ‘Bees in My Feet’ is but a humming drone that’s elevated above ambience by virtue of maintaining a pitch that’s impossible to ignore, however hard you may try.

There’s nothing ordinary about the music on this EP, and while it’s bewildering at times – as you’d reasonably expect from Bearsuit – it also contains moments of extreme elegance and grace which are spellbinding.

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Ipecac Recordings – 15th June 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Having teased us with the Cure cover which accompanies four remixes from their Seismic LP and provides, in part, the EP’s title, Spotlights deliver the rest of the tracks.

There’s substantial range here: Kris Dirkson’s remix of ‘Hang us All’ (retitled ‘The Hanging’) hinges on cinematic shoegaze, ethereal but, whittled to half its original length, feels focused and tightly structured.

Mario Quintero’s remix of ‘Ghost of a Glowing Forest’ (‘Till Darkness Comes Out’) is quite the contrast: a sprawling, murky, dubby beast that transitions from near-ambience to slow industrial thud, it sits between NIN and Portishead.

‘The Size of a Planet’, here reworked by Void Mains and retitled ‘I’ve Giant’ accentuates the heavy, bass-led doom drone that lies beneath the graceful lead parts on the album version, and draws it out to almost seven minutes. It’s pretty hefty. In combination, they make for a strong release, and while standing well in their own right, serve to return the attention to the album that spawned them.

The rendition of ‘Faith’ is utterly breathtaking. They’ve not messed with the original in terms of form or structure, and it’s remarkably faithful (sorry) and respectful – but with the heavy guitar work and even heavier drumming, it amps up the intensity to epic levels.

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Metropolis Records – 16th June 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Since their initial (slight) return with the EP produced in collaboration with Cubanate’s Marc Heal on his guise as MC Lord of the Flies in the spring of 2015, PIG have been on a real (sausage) roll.

Hot on the heels of the remix album Swine and Punishment lands the Prey & Obey EP, which features three new tracks spawned from the same swirling cesspit of sleaze which gave birth to The Gospel, the first PIG album in a decade. Bringing extra meat to the lineup for this outing is Sisters of Mercy guitarist Ben Christo, who also receives co-writing credit for ‘The Revelation’. Meanwhile, the eternal PIG / KMFDM overlap is maintained courtesy of the En Esch, who contributes a remix version of the lead (prime) cut.

‘Prey & Obey’ positively explodes with heavy-duty guitar-led grunt and chug. It’s vintage PIG, drawing all of the elements that define the band’s sound from the span of their career: Watts spits and snarls over overdriven guitars melded to a thumping industrial disco beat while a swirl of strings whip up the layers of drama. It’s all delivered with a knowing bombast and, and as such, sits up there with anything in the substantial PIG oeuvre.

‘The Revelation’ references PIG classic ‘Serial Killer Thriller’ in the sinewy lead guitar part, while Watts, snarling menacingly, juxtaposes bodily fluids and biblical references like only he can (and get away with). The third of the new tracks, ‘The Cult of Chaos’ is also of premium PIG standard; slower, grinding, it twists a goth-tinged lead guitar over a throbbing groove that’s equal parts guitar and electronic, while a brooding piano strolls around in the background

Of the remixes, the Leæther Strip remix of ‘Prey & Obey’ fits the predicable technoindustrial groove version requirement, while the aforementioned En Esch reworking is darker, murkier, grimier, and more atmospheric. Collectively, they make for a rounded representation of what PIG are about. There’s snout wrong with that, and Prey & Obey is not only a rip-snorting effort, but up there with the best PIG releases.

 

PIG - Prey & Obey

Metropolis Records – 5th May 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

Having recently completed their ‘Swine and Punishment’ double-header tour with Mortiis, PIG, previously having lain dormant for the best part of a decade, are returning with a vengeance. Billed as ‘a supplemental sermon’ to The Gospel, Swine and Punishment, with its audacious combination of literary allusions with shameful puns, is a remix album which slots into neatly into the already extensive PIG oeuvre.

Comments on social media and YouTube suggest that The Gospel has elicited something of a mixed reception, on account of it not being as good as some of the albums released during what they perceive as the peak of PIG’s carer. Many seem disgruntled by the more overtly glam / pop direction of the album. But these people have clearly missed the fact that Watts’ output under the PIG guise had a strong pop sensibility from the very outset: A Poke in the Eye and Praise the Lard are both pop albums first and foremost, with Watts revelling in the incongruity of combining dark lyrics with often quite buoyant tunage. They’ve also clearly missed the fact that Watts’ tongue is usually positioned somewhere in his cheek, and never more so on the knowingly song-orientated and accessible Gospel. In short, to criticise it for being the album it was intended to be is erroneous.

While remix albums are – as I’ve said and written more times than is remotely interesting, but hey, I’ll say it again – often difficult, thorny and sometimes thoroughly pointless, debasing exercises, Swine & Punishment does a good job of capturing the spirit of The Gospel while at the same time extending its scope.

One of my frequent gripes about remix albums is the track repetition, and on this score, Swine and Punishment is guilty, in that it’s largely built around three tracks from The Gospel, namely ‘Viva Evil’, ‘The Diamond Sinners’, and ‘Fly Upon the Pin’; however, it benefits from the inclusion of reworked renditions of ‘Drugzilla’ and ‘Found in Filth’, as well as the previously vinyl-only ‘Violence’. Moreover, the individual mixes ae diverse and divergent enough to make for an album that’s varied and doesn’t sound like the same three tracks dished up, reheated, with a range of subtly different sauces. The sample-filled, lopping grind of the MC Lord of the Flies remix of ‘Found in Filth’ (courtesy of Cubanate’s Marc Heal) is exemplary, particularly when places alongside the stuttering, abstract electro reinterpretation of the KANGA remix of ‘The Diamond Sinners.’

The St Gregory mix of ‘Fly on the Pin’ is perhaps one of the strongest examples of how a song can be given new life by means of serious mangling, and while there’s nothing as extreme as JG Thirlwell’s treatments of ‘Wish’ to be found here, Swine and Punishment invites favourable comparisons to NIN’s Fixed by virtue of the quality and range of the reinterpretations it contains.

Pig - Swine and Punishment Cover

 

Pig - Swine and Punishment Cover

Run United Music – RU18 – 3rd September 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Gudrun Gut’s Vogelmixe is, as you may gather, a remix album. An album of traditional folk songs, recorded by contemporary artists and remixed by Gudrun Gut. Helpfully, there are two discs, the second containing unmixed versions with the traditional arrangements preserved, previously featured on the album Heimatleider aus Deutschland Berlin/Augsburg in 2015.

‘From the Top 100 to “Alternative”, most of today’s music has the emotional depth of your regular smartphone’, write Mark Terkessidis and Jochen Kühling in the liner notes. And so the inspiration behind the Heimatleider aus Deutschland was a longing for music with emotional impact and a sense of commonality, prompting a return to what they refer to as ‘“primordial” forms of singing, to folklore as an oral tradition.’ There’s a distinct logic in that. New music, however sincere, genuine or authentic is by its nature a product and is imbued with an inescapable sense of artifice. It’s always made with an eye – and ear – for public consumption, for distribution, regardless of mattes of commerciality. Traditional folk music is by its nature the music of the people. It was never borne out of a sense of commercial appeal, or even with a view to its own propagation. It has a life of its own, and that life is real life. These are songs of people, songs of the earth. There’s no way to plan or market this.

Many of the songs sound remarkably contemporary even in their original form, particularly the thrumming bass groove of ‘Marhba’, as performed by La Caravana du Maghrab. The range of styles represented provides a rare insight into German folk music unlikely to be known by non-natives. One element common to the majority of the songs is the emphasis on rhythm. Repetition and strong melodies are also a defining characteristic, with the bold harmony-led melody of bolero ‘La somber del ayer’ demonstrating a remarkable level of complexity which contradicts popular notions of folk songs being somehow primitive or simple.

On the one hand, Gudrun Gut’s remixes are pretty brutal in their treatment of the source material. Her approach is largely centred around heavy-duty electronic sounds which take the songs a long way from their original, traditional forms. You couldn’t exactly call them sensitive or subtle. In fact, the majority of the songs are unrecognisable on every level. Yet for all the superficial violence Gut commits to the songs, she does demonstrate a real connection with them, and conveys the passion and spirit which lies at their heart. Her dubby take on ‘ZaNeYen’ works well, the weirdy electronic bleeps sounding not out of place against the pulsating bass buzz and cavernously reverbed percussion. She really goes to town on ‘Marhba’, in places reducing the track to short, intense loops against an insistent, thumping dancefloor beat, while in contrast, ‘Toma de la ca’ emerges as a more sultry, sedate groove. She does treat Heide’s ‘Ein klienes Waldvögelein’ with a remarkably light touch, leaving the acoustic guitar and vocal performance fundamentally intact and augmenting them with subtle, glitchy beats kept low in the mix, soft synth washes and small sleepy incidentals, none of which is overdone.

Ultimately, it’s Gudrun Gut’s varied approach to the already diverse range of material which proves to be the strength of Vogelmixe. Moreover, the centrality of rhythm in the originals is retained and even emphasised in the mixes, and while the nature of those rhythms is much more contemporary, it again serves to convey the essence of the music, and the way in which the original artists rendered the songs with such life for which credit is very much due. And herein lies the difference between those traditional songs and the manufactured sounds which Terkessidis and Kühling find so objectionable: the latter are the sounds of the human spirit and soul, and have endured because of this. Moreover, however you tweak them, mash them and grind them up, mix and remix them, they will always contain these immutable constants which resonate through all time.

Gudrun Gut

Folk Wisdom / SObject – March 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

IDM is one of those terms that sits a little uncomfortably. Not as uncomfortably as EDM, which is something of a tautology (granted, salsa, swing, and Ceroc is dance music, but in contemporary music circles, dance music is electronic by nature), but even so. The ‘I’ implies a certain snobbery over other forms of dance music, as if they must collectively be UDM (Unintelligent Dance Music) or DMM (Dance Music for Morons). Even if that is the case, isn’t it for the listener to decide whether the music is ‘intelligent’ or ‘dumb’? No matter: following on from Air Effect with Christian Fennesz, instrumental electronic duo OZmotic return with Liquid Times, an eclectic blend of forms which, as the blurb notes, embraces ‘IDM, ambient, nuances from techno, noise and glitch music.’ Nuance is indeed the operative word here, and precisely the key to the album’s success.

Fennesz, who also serves as a member of the live lineup, again features on two of the tracks here. Elsewhere, the duo have enlisted German producer Senking to remix two of the album’s tracks, as well as Frank Breitschneider: both are affiliated with Raster Noton, which more or less speaks for itself, being the label at the forefront of all things experimental.

So, that’s the form and the roll-call. As for the actual music… There’s a lot going on, in that nuance-heavy world they inhabit, with slow drips and creeping ambience, hums and drones which expand, rumble and eddy amidst jittery electronic buzzes. Low rhythms build murkily and the pieces unfold and evolve subtly. Extraneous sings – hooting owls, insectoid scuttles, scratches and clicks, and light veils of static all contribute to providing a layered sound. At times expansive and cosmic, at others more microcosmic, there’s always something going on, not only on the surface, but beneath.

Rising tides of distortion rupture smooth soundscapes, creating waves of tension which gnaw at the nerves. ‘Rhyzome’ operates within different parameters, exploiting the tropes of classical music and film soundtrack, paired with drum ‘n’ bass, hefty beats and resonant bass sounds booming dramatically before tapering down to a hushed discomfort, while ‘Diaspora’ (one of the Fennesz tracks) introduces abstract guitar drones which evoke Sunn O))) and Earth as they simmer in a squall of needling synths and mutant saxophone, rising into something resembling a conventional progressive riff that’s finally swallowed by a black hole of noise. There are some dark, heavy passages here, which throb and pulse. Flickers of the metallic and robotic bleep and scrape against thick curtains of sound to forge a dark cybersonic sonic vista. The Kraftwerkian closer, the Breitschneider remix of ‘Sliced Reality (and a world apart from the original version which also appears here), evokes sparse, dystopian sensations.

All of the different facets of the sound are drawn together seamlessly, coalescing into something unique and engaging. And while you can’t actually dance to it, it is, without doubt, intelligent music.

 

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