Posts Tagged ‘Remixes’

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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5th March 2021

It’s Friday afternoon: it’s been a tough week in a succession of tough weeks because lockdown, home working and home schooling since January has felt like an eternity. But arriving at the weekend alive and intact as the rain stopped and the sky cleared felt like some small-scale event, and an uplifting one.

Cracking open a beer, I experienced a brief moment of okayness: nothing nearly as extreme as euphoria, but something above calm. In the current climate, what could be better? What more could I ask for? The answer lay in my inbox with an email informing me that ‘Today Uniform launches an ongoing series of remix collaborations with digital releases exclusively on Bandcamp. Kicking off with Uniform X Zombi, new releases between Uniform and another artist remixing each other will continue over the coming months. In this first installment, Zombi gives Uniform’s ‘Shame’ an ominous rework and Uniform gives Zombi’s ‘XYZT’ a searing spin’.

It may seem perverse that I should experience such a surge of excitement at the prospect of being assaulted by gnarly noise, but there’s an inexplicable thrill with imminent catharsis, which of course is realised with the achievement of said catharsis.

The Zombi remix of Uniform’s ‘Shame’ isn’t a disappointment, but it’s not the raging racket one would anticipate. Everything is pulped down to a murky swamp of malevolence, Michael Berden’s vocal a slowed-sown metallic slur that finds itself enveloped in slow, gloomy synths that drone and grind as the drums plod dolorously. At times reminiscent of The Cure’s Carnage Visors, it melts toward abstraction, but the atmosphere is dank and oppressive. It may not be cathartic, but it is suffocatingly dense. It’s pretty much the perfect remix in that it isn’t kind or reverent, and instead takes the original material in a completely different direction, while still preserving its essence – in this case, the bleak anguish and soul-crushing nihilism – of the original.

Uniform return the favour by mangling the expansive math-tinged progressive ‘XYZT’ from Zombi’s last album 2020. The soaring guitars and intricate ‘Tubular Bells’ like synth motif is compacted down to a grainy murk of distortion, propelled by a hectic, stammering beat that’s pure tension. Again, it doesn’t bring the catharsis, but it does bring a whole lot of shade and discomfort. It seems right for the times: nothing is certain, it’s impossible to really settle and the light at the end of the tunnel remains shaky and may yet still be just a guy with a torch who’s lost. As we all are. But at least more Uniform provides some solace.

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28th January 2021

James Wells

This seven-tracker follows the same format as previous EP releases from the past couple of years, and features Dissonance’s collaborative duel with Melodywhore, ‘Damage: 1st Assault’, augmented with six remixes.

The remix package very much has its roots in the field of dance, from whence the work of Cat Hall – aka Dissonance – has emerged – although, as her bio notes, it ‘incorporates elements from industrial, pop, and alternative rock’ which has seen the project ‘compared to bands like Nine Inch Nails, Curve, This Mortal Coil, and Information Society.’

Coming together with Melodywhore has facilitated the exploration of the darker, harder-edged leanings of the Dissonance sonic palette, which places ‘Damage: 1st Assault’ very firmly in NIN territory, with an erratic stop-start beat dominated by a whipcrack snare driving a bubbling synth bass, which in turn underpins some dark atmospherics. It lands somewhere between Pretty Hate Machine and the electrosleaze of ‘Closer to God’, and it’s solid.

The remixes – being remixes from a selection of guests – accentuate different features, with Joe Haze’s CF2 remix pumping up the bass and beats to create a driving, dense backdrop to the backed-off, breathy vocal (which also highlights the Curve comparison), while the more stripped-back Machines with Human Skin Corrupted remix comes on more like the original Pigface recording of ‘Suck’, but with soulful backing vocals that owe more to Depeche Mode.

Steven Olaf’s remix is dirty but also beholden to 80s robotix synth, and so it goes. The REVillusion Revision Remix is a spaced-out stomper that goes for the slowed-down anthemic vibe.

The one thing that’s conspicuous is how the remixes stay fairly true to the original form and structure: there isn’t one reworking that takes the song somewhere entirely different, and there’s nothing as daring or brain-mangling as, say, JG Thirlwell’s radical remixes of Reznor’s cuts, and there’s nothing wrong with that by any means – it all just feels a little safe and reverent. And without any of the versions doing anything particularly radical, it does get a shade monotonous listening to the remixes back-to-back.

Still, it’s a decent enough tune, and if you’re prone to playing songs on a loop, this will save you hitting repeat.

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Houndstooth Records – 22nd January 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

‘Transmogrifications’ features a brace of compositions by Guy Andrews reworked, reimagined, decomposed – spin it whichever way – by seminal experimental musician Kevin Drumm, with one from Permanence (which was released in September) and another from his latest, [MT][NT][ET]. Back in the day, this would have been a 12” single, or a CD single / EP. Now, it’s simply a release. Part of me feels that the devolvement – and dissolvement – of the physical format is sad not because of plain nostalgia, but because of the way it’s altered our relationship with music. The release of new music, when it required actually going into town to purchase it, arriving home with a sense of excitement and anticipation to hear something that had required not only the effort of the journey, but the outlay of actual cash, meant that there was an element of deliberation involved in each purchase: you’ve got a tenner (and there was a time not SO long ago when that would likely get you three new 12” singles at £2.99 – £3.50 apiece), and dropping the needle on each was an actual event. The loss of that sense of occasion, that event, is significant, and one that struck me unexpectedly on hearing this. As excited as I was to hear it, the joy was tempered by a certain pang of loss.

Drumm explains the remit he was given, which directed his approach to the project, recounting that “Guy essentially said that he’d rather not hear his own music played back to him…So with that in mind, it freed me up to drastically transform his material…it was a good experience taking something that is quite different than what I usually get up to and turn it into something different than what it is in its original form.” And the title says it all, really: ‘transmogrification’ is defined as the process of complete and usually extreme or grotesque change from one state or form to another.

Each track is an entire album, compressed, condensed, and generally reworked and altered beyond recognition.

And so it is that ‘[MT][NT][ET]’ is seven-and-three-quarter minutes of deep, swirling ambience, a deep mass of sound that eddies and drifts with a drilling metallic edge giving it a slightly uncomfortable sharpness. While it’s a more or less even drone, there are occasional – subtle – dips and twists that add to the understated but quite definite tension. And yet for all that, there is an overall sense of calm, a smoothness, until near the end, when its rich, space-like tranquillity is devasted by a rising blast of extraneous noise.

‘Permanence’ offers a different kind of experience, it’s more deeply textured, and a slower, lower simmering fermentation of sound. It also boils the thirty-two minute album down to eight minutes of overlapping sonic layers. Glistering shards of feedback are worn smooth in a soft wash of pink noise and an undulating amorphous cloud of noise, beneath which a grating sonic wreckage churns at such distance as to be almost subliminal.

And then it stops. Just like that. The abrupt nature of the ending is of note, accentuating the silence that follows immediately, and giving a tangible pause for thought on a release that has a lot more depth than the surface first suggests.

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7th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Having built themselves a solid fanbase since their formation in 2017, with a series of single and EP releases, supported by some live shows primarily in their regional territory of Kent, Salvation Jayne have been going from strength to strength.

As has been the situation for so many bands, lockdown has put paid to pretty much all activity: gigs simply can’t happen, rehearsal rooms and studios have been closed, and it’s not been feasible for many artists to record at home for various reasons, not least of all not being allowed indoors together.

Despite all of the hot air and rhetoric and the unprecedented use of the word unprecedented, the 1918 so-called Spanish flu pandemic bears remarkable similarities to the present, and it’s like we’ve learned nothing in the last century. However, two major differences are that in 2020, we have the Internet to connect us, to spread misinformation, and to perform live streams and so on, and exchange chunks of audio.

For Salvation Jayne, exchanging chunks of audio wasn’t conducive to the creation of new material, but did facilitate a quite unexpected project, whereby other people could put their spin on cuts from the band’s back catalogue by means of some remixes.

For this project, they’ve enlisted a diverse array of collaborators: John Tufnell (Saint Agnes) – Black Heart; Jericho Tozer (SKIES) – Coney Island, Baby!; Eden Gallup (Violet Vendetta) – Cortez; Sara Leigh Shaw (The Pearl Harts) – Juno; Fuji Hideout – Tongue Tied, Tiiva – Jayne Doe. And at launch, they donated the proceeds of sales from Bandcamp to Refuge.

Witnessing bands so sorely deprived of income using their art for the greater good has been one of the most heartwarming things about lockdown: infinitely more meaningful than clapping for NHS workers in a display of virtue-signalling solidarity, artists making genuine sacrifices for charities spanning foodbanks, support for the homeless and mental health support shows where the real heart is. It’s always the grass roots acts passing up on Royalties, too, not fucking Bono imploring punters to donate, and that’s significant too. This is real charity.

It also matters that the product is of a certain quality, and this really is there: these remixes showcase the breadth of Salvation Jayne’s material, which may be rooted in solid alt-rock with more classic twists, but are well-suited to adaption.

The Saint Agnes Lockdown remix of ‘Black Heart’ explodes in a blast of abrasive noise and steers the song into a kind of early 00’s Pitchshifter industrial noise and distortion space, with pounding percussion and slabs of overdriven guitar backing Chess’ fuzzed-out vocal. With more disco-orientated verses, it shouldn’t work, but it does, and what’s more, it packs some real groove.

The Pearl Hearts’ take on ‘Juno’ is another stomper, disco beats cranked up to industrial strength, and this take also has a much harder edge than the original, and it works surprisingly well, as does ‘Coney Island, Baby!’, when SKIES sub the post-punk feel of the original version with something slower, heavier, more industrial, then sling in some epic strings on top. The result is pretty spectacular.

‘Cortez’ is a standout in the SJ catalogue, and to hear it pumped up, grooved up, and sped up is a major rush, and the same is true of ‘Jayne Doe’, released in May of this year and here given a radical and full-on dance reworking. It may divide the fans but it’s important that the band continue to push their parameters instead of limiting their horizons. Ultimately, this is what the remixes EP is all about: Salvation Jayne may be a rock band with a certain post-punk leanings, but above all they’re a band who don’t want to be pinned to a style, and a band with range, and these remixes showcase both the sound and progressive attitude perfectly.

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Houndstooth -15th March 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

And We Are Passing Through Silently is pitched as ‘a collection of songs reworked by Abul Mogard between 2015 – 2018’, with the press blurb describing it as ‘the sublime first survey of reworks by [the] cult synthesist’. It’s also keen to point out that while there may only be five tracks on offer, here, the stature of the artists with whom Mogard has had involvement, noting ‘divine renderings’ of songs by Aïsha Devi, Penelope Trappes (The Golden Filter) and nick nicely (heralded by luminaries of the US underground Ariel Pink & John Maus), with the album culminating with Brian Eno’s collaboration with Irish avant-folk band Fovea Hex.

The 2LP, CD and digital editions also feature Abul’s brand new rework of Becoming Animal’s ‘The Sky Is Ever Falling’ which features vocals from Cinder (This Mortal Coil/Cindytalk) and Massimo Pupillo on bass (Zu/Thurston Moore/Stephen O’ Malley),

The album opens with Mogard’s reworking of Aïsha Devi’s ‘O.M.A.’ The minimalism of the original, as well as its woozy atmospherics are substituted for a mellow sonic wash, and while it’s eminently listenable, there is a certain sense of loss. The darker, more disturbing aspects are stripped out in favour of something less psychologically traumatic, but… I’m torn between the function of a remix bringing something different, and it taking out the essence, and this very much feels like a stylised dilution.

In contrast, his rendition of Penelope Trappes’ ‘Carry Me’ distils that essence and concentrates it, while also drawing out three mellow minutes into twelve and a half of droning organ abstraction, and Mogard’s reworking of nick nicely’s ‘London South’ follows the same trajectory, stretching out four minutes of soft, wistful psychedelia into a fifteen-minute drift, with long, sonorous drones expanding to cinematic proportions. The vocals are preserved, but spaced out, pushed to the back, partially submerged in reverb.

Everything reaches a perfect coalescence on ‘The Sky Is Ever Falling’. Which combines cinematic and operatic, minimalism and maximalism, as the sparse yet full, widescreen instrumentation comes to crate the backdrop for a soaring vocal performance that lifts and soars. The piece warps and wefts on a solar wind for almost a quarter of an hour, before the contrails bleed into an eternal scraping drone that creates a soporific calm that flows from foreground to background in an imperceptible transition.

On the one hand, there isn’t much to it, and Mogard’s method is simple – but it’s not only effective, but has ‘signature’ stamped all over it: his style is distinctive, to the point that his reworkings relegate the original artist and their work to a secondary placing while his own sound and style dominate. On occasion such an approach to remixing may appear ‘insensitive’ or even ‘selfish’, but Mogard seems to have established himself as a re-creator more than a remixer, with artists lining up to submit their work to his reworkings, he’s clearly got some leverage in the musical community, and fair play.

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Abul Mogard – And We Are Passing Through Silently