The remix has always been one of electronic music's defining features, the ability to reimagine a song in an infinite number of ways. In the nineties in particular, remixes became a cynical way for major label or cult indie bands to flaunt their connections to the 'underground' while providing a quick cash grab and wider audience for the artist. In too many instances, remixes can sound quite literally like a cash grab as the listener is subjected to producer X taking song Y and applying formula Z, resulting in an uninspired 'versioning' in the key of that producer's trademark style (see Carl Craig's run of mid-00s remixes that had moments of brilliance, but most sounded regrettably phone-in). Other times, remixes can just feel superfluous; though designed for DJ functionality, I recently learned if given the chance to play Ron Trent's "Altered States" or any of these accompanying remixes, 99% of the time I'm going to go for the original (the "South Side Terrace" remix at least retains the original's hypnotic charm while adding a bit of helpful functionality).
Of course, a less cynical take on remixes reveal them to provide producers with the chance to try out something new or strike upon gold with the most unlikely of source material. Having highlighted two recent remixes by LNS that speak to two diametrically opposite directions in her work, it got me wondering which other artists I adore who might have done remixes that passed me by this year. Plus, it's an excuse to highlight a few oldies that haven't gotten the praise they deserve.
Helm - Blue Scene (Parris Remix) (Alter 2018)
Confession time: So hearing this remix, which I had known about since its release back in January, a week or two ago was the main impetus behind this little voyage. That Parris would bring the type of post-genre synthesis that made last summer's Hemlock release such a game-changer to a remix speaks to the 'selfish' nature propelling he and many of his peers' productions in the sense that they are intent on making the music they want to make without having to repeat themselves. Taking the blown-out sampledelic down beat of the original and rendering it into a beatless concréte requiem, a distorted tonally-varying bass patters come barreling into the mix sounding like Pansonic finally making that jazz fusion record they always threatened to. Perhaps making an eye-wink meta-commentary on the original's jazzbo samples and the rambling sax that stumbles across Parris's remix, the space in between the kicks are filled in sparingly, hinting at a more forward-facing beat until an Amen break chop-up pierces through the mix and for one glorious minute, amorphous sound wraps itself around the mutating beat. Eager to keep listeners guessing, Parris spends the track's remaining minutes teasing out the skeletal frame of the beat, pushing listeners into the space between. And if you're look for your noisey dance music to have a bit more junk in the trunk, the Beneath remix has you covered. Though so are the Laurel Halo, Sky H1, and Low Jck remixes.
Perfume Genius - Die 4 U (Laurel Halo Remix) (4AD 2018)
Considering this got published to YouTube three days after I hit publish, makes sense to just use the gift of the eternal edit and insert this absolute destroyer in here. Laurel Halo is an artist who I got super into at the start of her career--remember going to the King Felix EP release party where OPN opened...different days, man. But as her profile rose and I saw one too many shows of hers in a brief time span, I admittedly tuned out. Having in the past several years heard impassioned pleas about Chance of Rain and have been told of Dust's greatness, I just haven't gotten around to digging into her catalog. Hell, I couldn't be bothered to listen to her fucking phenomenal remix on the Helm remix EP above, in which she turns "Blue Scene" into a dynamic stepper that is just too heady for words. Having learned of her Perfume Genius via this thread from the 555-5555 forum--a newly-founded forum by Patten that exists to try and foster constructive music-related discussions--it took about thirty secoonds of the treated vocals and weightless dubstep vibes that unfurl over the remix's first half for me to start revising this piece. After about a minute of setting the stage with clippings of Perfume Genius's voice, she drops the hammer for her take on the type of low-slung MPC/choppy techno jam a la Via App or Lutto Lento. By the time his voice finally enters the mix largely untreated, it's a violently beautiful feeling that's as sensual as it is brutal. Top grade, y'all.
Johnny L - Piper (Peverelist Remix) (XL Recordings 2018)
Man, was I not trying to listen to this remix twelve. Don't get me wrong, "Piper" is a D&B classic and a testament to XL's deft A&R'ing throughout the nineties. To be honest, I'm surprised they haven't done something like this sooner given the label's willingness to cash in on nineties nostalgia and all that. But in addition to Powell churning out a rude chugger, Peverelist turned in one of best tunes I've heard from him in years, a deliciously askew piece of dance music that sounds like what you might get if you played a Punch Drunk record of his over a Livity Sound joint, the downbeat always just falling left of center. And for those looking for something a bit more straightforward and easy to mix, this deliciously textural technoid remix of Roberto's "Chord Recall" on Solar Phenomena from last December should do the trick.
Romansoff - Graded (Ploy Remix) (Solar Phenomena 2018)
Speaking of Solar Phenomena, although the label has only been around since last year, they're already on release numero eight with five releases this year from the likes of Zurkonic faves STL, Duckett, and Fluxion. One release that would have passed me by had it not been for a remix from percussive prodigy Ploy. I've already mentioned this remix in my Jan-April round-up, but since we're already here ....Picking up where “Unruly” left off, “Graded” sees him once again employing a barrage of percussive strata, ranging from a near-constant kick drum to more-live sounding percussion and a machine-gun high hat pattern keeping the whole together. A spooky melody hovers over the melee, making it a bit more accessible than the mind-boggling maximalist abstraction of his previous effort. And in a signature left move, his concurrently-released remix of Pletnev's "Thrown Furniture" sees him in a whole other mode as he pummels out a taut tribal-industrial groover that is more lithe than its constituent parts may suggest.
Ellen Alien - Mind Journey (Eomac Remix) (Bpitch Control 2018)
I haven't listened to Ellen Allien since her collab album with Moderat over a decade ago, but there's no doubting her dance music bona fides. She's an institution; a producer, DJ, label head, fashion designer, and probably plenty of other things of which I am unawares. Either way, her enlisting of Eomac's percussive perversions--his insane Reconnect album is at the top of my to-review list--speaks to her ever-present finger on the techno pulse. And having spent quite a bit of time with Reconnect recently, to hear Eomac turn in such a restrained yet poignant mix of "Mind Journey" speaks to his own versatility. Built around a grizzled tom drum rhythm, the focus is on the slow-building melodies that the producer elegantly folds atop one another. By the time a mutilated spoken voice disrupts the groove for just a second, you're given a jolt of a reminder to never listen too trustingly to Eomac for you never know what's up his sleeve.
Edward - Let's Go (KreidlerRemix) (Giegling 2017)
Heh, bet you didn't expect to see a Giegling release on here, did ya? Even before the owner of the label finally revealed himself as the unapologetic misogynist he seemed to be quite open about behind closed doors, I was quite vocal about my dislike for the label's hackneyed output (not that earns me any cred, just my dislike for the label extends beyond foul mindsets). I mean, had y'all just never heard a Dial record before? Anyway, although the label and its artists have seemingly dispersed, last year's release schedule was still making its ways to stores when a very trusted friend hipped me to this remix when he dropped it in the mix at a bougie Greenpoint bar on a busy Friday night and I lost my mind. Turns out Kreidler is a long-running (and totally awesome) German post-rock group featuring Detlef Weinrich (Tolouse Low Trax). Their "Just Say No Mix" is a minor revelation in subtle chugging trance dynamics, a percussive shaking synth providing the syncopated center of gravity for the group to take the listener on a snowy train ride through the interzone. Also, check their krautrock-meets-EBM Synth Pop remix of Eurythmics' Le Sinistre.
Hugo Messien - Ghost Note (Bruce's X Mix) (17 Steps 2018)
Look, I can find Don't DJ's fourth world trance schtick a little daft sometimes, but when he takes a break from the mallets, he can create some pretty rad stuff like this mutant motorik reimagining of the dreadfully-name Indianizer's "Mazel Tov II."
Steevio - Hiraeth (Wisdom Teeth 2018)
True to form, K-Lone and Facta's WIsdom Teeth has continued down their lushly soundscaped hole into the deepest recesses of house and techno to bring back something just not quite right. Where LOFT's extraordinary EP showed off a parallel timeline where Autechre's focus stayed on the club--at least in theory--techno journeyman Steevio's WSDM 008 is an aslant reading of house templates, which are given a serious jolt from his sentient-sounding analog rig. Batu's remix--released within a month of his astounding XL debut and the Patina Echoes compilation he curated for his Timedance label, it finds the producer in especially lowkey wacked-out house mode. Recalling the bright synths and rolling tom-heavy beats of "Marius," the remix boasts a richer percussive palette and intricate programming as the patterns endlessly, teasing out halfstep and 2-step rhythms, never content to stay still.
Low - Down (Porter Ricks Remix Vernon Yard Recordings 1998)
Writing my synopsis of Porter Rick's corpus last summer, I became familiar with the duo's limited but curious remix work, including a high profile remix for Nine Inch Nails. Even more surprising, and making much more sense on a guttural level was the inclusion of slo-core pioneers Low. Taking the seven-and-a-half minute "Down" as their source, the duo of Thomas Köner and Andy Mellwig go for broke to create arguably one of the most successful indie rock-gets-remixed-by-leftfield-electronic-act. Essentially reimagining Low as if they were members of the band, the already lengthy original gets almost doubled in length while the formidable atmosphere conjured up simply by the band's guitar-bass-drums set-up is amplified tenfold as the sound of windswept nothingness gradually congeals into a rendition of the sogn that is a transportive as it is affecting.