Very few remix albums are worth listening to. Fewer still are good all the way through. And yet, people keep making them. So I feel I must ask — why? Isn’t it more fun to cover a song than it is to remix it? Isn’t it better to turn the song into a completely different entity than just extending it and taking out the lyrics? This is just my point of view, of course. There are plenty of interesting remixes of songs out there. But keeping up a pattern of consistently amusing remixes for an hour is a much harder feat than taking on just one song. It could be the challenge in getting a proper album “feel” from only remixes. Or it could be idiocy. Yet, we still have them.
Her Space Holiday’s The Young Machines Remixed is yet another remix album in a world that clearly has too many as it is. That doesn’t mean that this album is, in any way, bad. But because of the remix album’s reputation, there were low expectations going into this review.
However, a look at the remixers reveal high potential for success. Among those credited are The Album Leaf, Arab Strap, Matmos, Super Furry Animals, DNTEL, Broken Spindles and Stereolab. How’s that for star power? But a big name isn’t necessarily enough without melodic backing. In this case, many of the big names deliver. The Album Leaf does a beautiful job recreating “The Young Machines,” working in the unmistakable, warm LaValle sound. The Super Furry Animals strip down “Sleepy California” to a quirky, bouncy trip-hop. “Japanese Gum” is made significantly more cinematic and dramatic thanks to DNTEL’s Jimmy Tamborello. Broken Spindles provides the weirdest contribution, making “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” into a robotic, distorted industro new wave track. And “Girl Problem,” remixed by Stereolab, might be the best thing here, combining video game synth sounds with guitar and hard-driving organ before moving through a series of tempo shifts.
There are, of course, a few less notable moments, but overall, the idea seems to work. There are plenty of high points and enough variety to keep the listener intrigued. However, I’d recommend listening to The Young Machines first, otherwise this won’t make much sense. And furthermore, it’s a dandy little album all on its own.
The Faint – Danse Macabre Remixed
Dismemberment Plan – A Brief History of the Dismemberment Plan
Super Furry Animals – Phantom Phorce
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.