Sunday, 8 July 2007

June Drowned In Sound Reviews

Two reviews I did for the website in June 2007.

Night Of The Brain
Wear This World Out
Station 55


Some records are impossible to judge objectively outside of the context that they come cloaked in. The critical vacuum that some argue should exist is an idealised impossibility. It is the framing power of context and the juxtopositional relationships that sprawl between records and their creators that allows for criticism to exist. With no common reference or point of comparison it become difficult to posit the album in a place of communal understanding.

This is my convoluted and arseholic way of saying hey! I am going to compare this record to lots of other records and that Wear This World Out cannot be considered independently of its creator: Cristian Vogel.

Vogel has ploughed a successful and diverse career as producer of techno, half of innovative electronica duo SuperCollider alongside Jamie Liddell and as a studio producer and remixer for Radiohead, Chicks On Speed and Maximo Park.

While this record fails to scale the dizzy heights of Liddell’s sublime Multiply there is such a variety of styles and nagging sense of possibility in this record that it demands being returned to. It hooks the listener with shorter opening tracks Ghosts, Golden Shower Song and Viki The Tall which all conform to template that falls somewhere between a slightly woozy, slowed version of Q and Not U’s energetic dance punk mixed with almost dream like post rock sensibilities before the pivotal Connecting Charges (the track that most closely resembles Vogel’s straight electronic work and in this full band context appears the albums weakest cut coming on like Tricky fronting a faceless track from a generic chill out compilation) that then segues into a series of tracks all around the 7 minute mark that have more in common with the gentle, exploratory avant-rock of Gastr Del Sol or The Sea and Cake or even perhaps the O’Rourke produced efforts of Wilco displaying a willingness to explore and nose around the limitations of the form while never quite straying into self indulgence. The intro and outro of Winter Wine for example toy with strange static noises more commonly found in records that appear on Harbinger Sound or No Fun than a techno imprint. The bass and drums are unsurprisingly fairly prominent throughout. For a man of Vogel’s background the rhythm acts as an anchor from which the more exploratory sounds can fly and all in all Wear This World Out offers and intriguing and enjoyable listen that benefits repeat visits.

Whighnomy Bros & Robag Wruhme
Remikks Potporri II
Freude Am Tanzen Recordings


We have reached a stage of flux in which ‘dance’ music (in the loosest of definitions) copulates so freely with ‘indie’ music (again in the loosest of terms) that practically no indie release is complete without a perfunctionary dancefloor edit from this months producer du jour. In 2005 unless you had a Paul Epworth rerub on the backside of your 7 you may as well wave goodbye disco success and in 2007 Phones has been discarded for the ubiquitous SMD while the Ed Banger and Institubes stables offer a kind of readymix package whereby you basically get the guitar song remixed without even asking for the edit in the first place. Some artists have even decided that they could actually do with other people remixing their whole albums (witness Bloc Party and Architecture in Helsinki).

The presumptuousness of these artists of the worth of the original work comes across as conceited and the workmanlike approach to remixing has demystified what can be one of the most noble of musical endeavours. Unlike the cover version, which by its nature dictates adherence to the original, the remix allows the remixer to take that which made the original song special and place it in a different context either to create contrast (on this record witness the remix of Matthias Tanzmen’s Bulldozer) or to complement and ameliorate the qualities of the original (here the stunningly glacial remix of Future Sound Of London’s Lifeforms).

“Stripped my heart and ripped it apart, all in the name of fun,” echoes Gahan over the Wruhme remix of Depeche Mode’s Lillian, if this album represents these three producers having fun then it is a masterly and well-applied sense of fun. The calibre of artist represented on this second selection of remixes from the Whignomy Bros and Robag Wruhme is indicative of the trios standing and it is a respect well earned. They offer a wonderful case-study of the remix applied correctly, the essence of each of the songs is snatched and framed in sounds and rhythms that give it new lease of life and renew the possibilities of what could be assumed the song could be.

Any of the collections 10 tracks could be chosen to demonstrate the point but two stand out in particular. The Wighnomy Bros remix of Gustav’s We Shall Overcome is given a glitchy microhouse beat while chiming, slightly off kilter sounds create an endearing backdrop for the vocal which is reminiscent of Karin Dreijer Andersson at her most simplistically piercing. Ellen Allien and Apparat’s Way Out meanwhile offers another enchanting vocal but this time the Whighnomys and Robag create peeling swathes of beats akin to vintage ambient Aphex efforts while a bed of techy melodic stabs carry the listener to whichever way it is that is out. The collection is topped by an exclusive Wruhme original, which departs from the melodic sense of space that runs through the remixes and attacks the listener with relentless strings and breaks. An unexpected nugget atop a collection that demonstrates that used correctly the remix is a tool of boundless possibility.

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