The year of the Remix

In years past, the trend was to release singles with on additional song, or a unreleased video to get fans to shell out $9.99 for material they already owned. This year it seemed if you had a popular album it was immediately followed up with a remix album with th hippest indie rock producers in the biz.

Lots of bands did it - Bloc Party, Le Tigre for example - but no one got more releases out of an album than indie funk, hip-hopper Beck. Apparently Beck coverted from a gas guzzler to a hybrid, because he got more mileage out of Guero than I thought possible. Before the release of Guero, the Internet was flooded with remixes and alternate versions. No one knew what versions would be on the actual release. Beck also released a "deluxe version" of the album that included remixes by Dizzie Rascal, Boards of Canada, Octet and Royskopp. You'd think this is enough material to satisfy even the most devout Beck fan, but you'd be wrong.

This week Beck is going back to the well to release a remix version of Guero called Guerolito. There are some suspect details about this release (like the fact two of the tracks were released on the "deluxe version" - Octet's remix of Girl, and Boards of Canada's remix of Broken Drum, and he already released an E-Pro remix single), but the people involved in this project are legit. Look at the cast, Adrock, The Islands, Air, Diplo, El-P and more. It’s the musical equivalent of people signing on for a Wes Anderson flick.

I was very excited to hear these tracks, especially Shake Shake Tambourine. This is Adrock's remix of Black Tambourine. He gets a little funky of the blips and some nice hand claps, but more or less he comes off like Beck's hyper. Lots of "uh"s and "yah"s are his biggest additions to this track. Adrock should have consulted Lloyd Banks or some of those clowns from D-12 to get the hyper role down, but the remix is not bad.

Overall, like with most remix albums, most of the original material is better. That is without question, but there are some definite standouts on this album that make it worth “picking up”. Th’corn Gangg’s remix of Emergency Exit is beautiful. The subtle electronica beat adds depth to a track in an Album Leaf style, before wexploding into a powerful chorus. My favorite track is the Air remix of Missing (now called Heavenly Hammer). The beat is distinctly Air, and the new mix is a perfect background or chilling track. Plus it has lots of cowbell, so that makes it cool right?

Diplo’s take on Go at it Alone (Wishing Coin) is a nice track too. The minimalistic beat he starts with gradually builds into a nice beat that makes you forget about the solid original version. The funky spin Homelife puts on E-Pro is a nice addition to the album as well. Just a great headphone track.

I guess the perfect way to express my general malaise about this album is, it’s nice to hear some remixes of great tracks (much like the 55 singles the Postal Service released for their great album, Give Up), but most of the time the original is a better cut. After the first 45 seconds of the song, you are left saying: “it’s cool, but I like Beck’s version better.” The Islands remix Guero is really solid and their take on the track is unique and one of the more risky mixes on the album, but after one listen, it was taken out of the rotation. Like a bad designer at a midget club, Beck set the bar too high for these acts to match up.

Other than the rehashed material, the biggest disappointment on the album is Mario C’s remix of Earthquake Weather. Ironically, Mario C – most well known for producing the Beastie Boys golden era material - converts the beat from a heavily Beastie Boys instrumental styled beat to a dub reggae sounding track that just doesn’t work. Perhaps he’s spending too much time with Adam Topol, Merlo and Mr. Jack Johnson.

So where does this album land? I guess if you are a diehard Beck fan, grab it. There is more than enough interesting material to make it enjoyable, but if you aren’t afraid to take money from an artist’s locker, I’d suggest d/l-ing the tracks first. In fact you can start here:

Emergency Exit – Th’corn Gangg remix

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