Remix albums compiled from mixes of a single artist by various other artists tend to be scattered, often uneven affairs. It is unusual that they be conceived as wholes, each part a contribution to something cohesive and unified. Yet, that is the case with Dead Horse, five remixes of songs from So This is Goodbye, Junior Boys’ unassailable album from 2006. Though there are obvious differences in the style of the remixes, they nonetheless feel united in the way that they simultaneously depart from the original material and complement it. The shadow of the Junior Boys material appears again and again, no matter how broadly it has been manipulated. The overall impact is of a glacial spaciousness, a meditative arena in which the warmth and reserve of the original tracks are emphasized and mutated.
The opener finds Hot Chip dramatically altering the sublimely taut “In the Morning.” They expand it into something distinctly their own, even going so far as to integrate vocals into the mix, including the strangely appropriate refrain “I’ll never love again until you say I can.” Whereas the Junior Boys version is tightly wound, tense and sexual, the Hot Chip remix is spacious, focused more on extracting and enhancing the tender melancholy embedded in the original. It is an impressionistic take on ambivalence which has only been hinted at; what we end up with is the pleasantly heartbreaking scene of someone conflicted, pushing away someone as he tries to pull him or her closer. In the original, we feel reserved from this drama, distanced by the coolly mechanical sway it induces. Here it takes on the loose associations of a daydream, harmless yet engrossing. The remix is not better or worse, but completely satisfying in a way altogether different.
Detroit techno legend Carl Craig contributes another expansive epic, a brooding, almost menacing mix of “Like a Child.” From a the spare thumping of a slow, sinister beat it grows steadily into a cinematic shadow world, a context in which each lyric takes on connotations far beyond those suggested implicitly by the Junior Boys version. Throughout its 10 and 1/2 minute running time it maintains a remarkable tenseness, an exhilarating discomfort produced by prodding the darker recesses of human emotion and undercutting the apparent innocence of Jeremy Greenspan’s vocals.
There are two mixes—taken in completely different directions—of “FM.” The first by Tensnake, a solo project of Marco Niemerski from Auf Aubert, is a repetitive rush of hypnotic synth-lines, integrating again and again the lyric “Let’s leave tonight.” It completely drowns out the world-weary-yet-still-hopeful texture of the original in favor of something entirely more primal. Marsen Jules, on the other-hand, spins the song into webs of ethereal effluvia, giving it an ambient, Lost in Translation feel, a gauze of sound spread thinly over a darkened neon-illuminated city. It simulates the tranquility of release, of feeling untethered from the world, the peace of looking in at life from the outside and deciphering the mysterious beauty beneath an infinite surface of complication.
Kode 9’s take on “Double Shadow” is a slice of spaced-out interstellar dub. Its narcotic tempos are laced with disembodied shards from the Junior Boys track and inorganic sonic fragments. With its mechanized, futuristic imperiousness, the impression it leaves is a far cry from that of the original. Like the other tracks, in diverging from the original material it has created a sort of alternate reality. If the songs from So This is Goodbye are reality, the remixes on Dead Horse are a dream world composed from experiences of the originals. And this makes for a much different experience, but one that allows you to see things again, differently, from perspectives made newly possible.
Trentemoller – The Last Resort
Junior Boys – So This is Goodbye
Ellen Allien and Apparat – Orchestra of Bubbles