The Domino Records, first rank English label, has just released a double album gathering up some of the best remixes of its large discography. A definitely winning operation, because it sees great names of international clubbing (some very famous “veterans”, others young on the crest of a wave) in the throes of songs from equally important bands.
The compilation title comes from the opening track of the last album by Hot Chip, In Our Heads. The really interesting aspect of this project, as well as the pleasure to listen again to these great songs in a odd appearance, it’s the possibility to give them all a common direction, absolutely dance-floor oriented, in spite of the strong differences of genre and style.
It’s evident that the contemporary popular music is increasingly contaminated. For some decades genres and styles have been multiplying and mixing up themselves, guitars and amplifiers have been marrying with analogic and digital synths or with virtual instruments. Rock is no more just rock, the songwriter is not only “guitar and voice” and, in the club, we dance everything.
The remix, at the bottom, is nothing more than a fundamental practice of genres trespassing, a way for textual re-interpretation that inflects the musical piece according to some clear fruition requirements. In the current landscape, the remix has become a true musical art form, able to expand to infinity the expressive power of a song, transforming it into something completely new both for the signifier and for the signified, and first of all for the genre. The winning element of the remix is exactly the type of intervention: the producer acts directly on the original material (the single tracks), though he assumes the power to manipulate the original matter of the chosen track to his taste.
In some episodes of this compilation the operation is quite brave: the champions of the “alternative” music lend themselves to the needs of the entertainment electronic music, leaving out an unsuspected (in some cases) night strength. Demonstrating that, as we said, the interferences between listening music and dance music are increasingly close (this can be seen also from the ways we use spacesutilization of spaces: we increasingly often go to clubs and discos for rock gigs and to theaters for dj-sets).
Motion Sickness turns off the sun and gets the nightfall, asking ourselves to forget original versions of these tracks to appreciate them in a new look, with distorted structures and reversed balance. The honor of opening the compilation is given to the young Canadian band Austra. The dark and sophisticated retro synth-pop of their Beat and Pulse is completely transformed by Still Going: four on the floor kick drum and removal of every elements of the song-form. If for Tricky, whom Time to Dance is remixed by the young Maya Jane Coles, it’s not so strange passing by the dance-floor, instead it’s a novelty for the singer/songwriting Juana Molina, listening to her Un Dia in the unusual techno version made by Reboot.
The meeting between Junior Boys and Carl Craig is really interesting: the indie electro of Like a Child is subjected to a process of deconstruction, becoming a longer than ten minutes minimal techno track that leaves every kind of grip to the audience, but hypnotizinge them. Also Matthew Dear gets carried away with Optimo by Liquid Liquid and he expands it beyond ten minutes, succeeding in pointing up the featuring of this song through a large sonic range and a hard beat.
However, the best experiment of first disc is the Hot Chip‘s Night and Day remix: the dance arrangement and the all-involving groove of the original version are enhanced by the tasteful and mysterious touch of Daphni, choosing to underscore especially some instrumental parts and the sentimental mood of this song.
The second disc is maybe “bolder” and goes deeply to the darkest hours of the night, when everything can happen. For example, Justice upset Franz Ferdinand The Fallen, disassembling it into very small pieces and catching up them in their own brazen and irresistible way. Also Cheap & Cheerful by The Kills, remixed by SebastiAn, another French house big name, has the same taste. In the central part, electro-funk becomes the leading mood with the Bonde Do Role‘s Marina Gasolina remix by Fake Blood and the beautiful new reading of Animal Collective’s Summertime Clothes by Dam Funk, that gives a boost of energy to the American band’s psychedelic indietronica.
The Jon Hopkins‘ touch to the gentle indie-folk song Woozy With Cider by James Yorkston & Athletes is, as usual, sophisticated, while the sonic world built by Balam Acab for Kimmie in The Rice Field by Twin Sister is alienating and vaguely disturbing.
In short, having available a wide range of remixes from which to draw, Domino has been able to choose the perhaps more appropriate twenty tracks to reveal its clubbing tendency. If it’s true that, in some cases, there is a risk of falling into banality and into stereotype, or of clearly losing comparison with the original version, it’s equally true that the effectiveness of other tracks rescues the goodness of the operation. It will not be a double album to listen to in one sitting, but it’s definitely a good repertoire of singles that smarter djs will be able to make the most of. Who knows if the next time it’s up to the songs by Arctic Monkeys, Anna Calvi, Cass McCombs or even Robert Wyatt?