– The mighty Nathan Fake in action. And what Mozart might have used if he were born today.
What makes a great remix? Since remixes first started appearing on the disco and early hip-hop scene 30 years ago they’ve morphed into a check-box for most music marketing and A&R people. The intervening years have generally seen the creative life sucked out of them. Where they were once used to add a new dimension to a track, or to create more life on the dancefloor, or to throw a new artistic slant on a piece of music, they now tend to be part of a marketing ‘tick box’ and not much beyond that – A way to make sure that as many different audiences hear a song, irrespective of the musical merits behind it. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, and some good music does come out of this, but every now and again a remix will come along that is beyond a mere ticked box, but actually manages to flatten those boxes, or to create a whole new set of boxes.
The remixes that actually change the landscape of remixing are few and far between. Of course what constitutes a defining remix can be debated all day, but there are some that unquestionably are. You can count the Coldcut remix of Erik B and Rakim as part of that group, the Boris Dluglosch remix of ‘Sing it Back’, the Armand Van Helden remix of ‘Professional Widow’, the Timo Maas remix of ‘Dooms Night’ and the Soulwax remix of ‘Standing in the Way of Control’, as a few examples. All of these remixes offered a new way of approaching the concept of the remix, and created a new remix landscape whilst doing so. They’ve not only brought the song to a new audience, but they’ve actually found something in the piece of music that didn’t exist before. They’ve heightened an intensity or a sound, or have thrown a musical curve-ball into the mix, and in doing so have pushed the song into a new dimension.
We’re lucky enough to publish a few of these classic remixes (including the previously mentioned Soulwax ‘Standing in the way of Control’ remix and Boris D’s ‘Sing it Back’ Remix), as well as what is possibly my favourite remix of the past few years. This is the James Holden remix of Nathan Fake’s ‘The Sky Was Pink’. For me, this is an example of a remix that came out of nowhere and changed the language of the remix. The original Nathan Fake version is an aching, darkly dramatic piece of music, which is glorious in its own right. The James Holden remix, however, not only takes it to the dancefloor, but manages to fill it with many opposing factors that really shouldn’t work, but somehow fit perfectly. It manages to have a steely techno icy-ness, brought by the glitchy bleeps and heavy synth sounds Holden adds to the mix, whilst still retaining a very human warmth and emotion. The rythyms Holden uses are often arhythmic, sounding as though they’re falling over themselves (and no doubt causing many people experiencing the track on the dancefloor to lose their balance too), and often making the track feel out of sync in some way. Yet everything feels in its right place and the track has caused many different types of dancefloors to unite in a single rhythm. The melodic lines swing in and out of the mix, often unpredictably,and despite managing to confuse the listener with its seeming randomness still somehow conveys Fake’s original melodic phrases to perfection. It is essentially a remix of stark contrasts, that not only ticks all the boxes, but forces new boxes out of nowhere. I could listen to it all day. And night. It’s clear that many people agree with me – since its release in 2006 its style has been imitated by many in dance music and beyond. As we’d say in the Valleys: it’s STUNNIN’!
Talking of current remixes that float my boat, here’s my top 3 current favourites on Chrysalis:
// WHITE LIES Death (Chase and Status Remix) // GOSSIP Heavy Cross (Fred Falke Remix) // HOWLING BELLS Cities Burning Down (Disco Bloodbath Remix) // and, of course… NATHAN FAKE The Sky Was Pink (James Holden Remix) // MOLOKO Sing it Back (Boris Dluglosch Remix) //
– David O
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