It’s no real surprise that the remix culture has progressed, or that it has become even more popular than ever in our `meta’ world. Think about it. Thanks to applications such as GarageBand, remixing isn’t just for studio whizzes, producers and engineers anymore. Thanks to YouTube, almost anyone with a computer or even a cell phone with video capability, usually college-age miscreants with too much time on their hands, can make their own videos for popular songs. It’s enough to make you want to add a disclaimer after the very word `remix,’ that being, `Please don’t try this at home.’ But while the hoi polloi tend to bring the entire culture down, there are a few pros out there lifting the idea to a higher art form. Case in point, DFA, the production duo of James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy.
DFA might as well also stand for `Don’t Fuck Around,’ as in DFA doesn’t… The DFA Remixes: Chapter Two is the inevitable follow-up to their crowd-pleasing first volume of dance club friendly reworkings. At first glance, DFA admirers might be disappointed at seeing only eight tracks, but the album length of over 70 minutes should be enough to soothe even the most hardcore of club music enthusiasts. Three tracks are over ten minutes each, and one clocks in just shy. Just as in the first volume, DFA proves they can take any lump of clay and mold it into dance floor gold.
There’s not much of a distance to travel in order to make extended remixes of songs like Junior Senior’s “Shake Your Coconuts” or even Goldfrapp’s “Slide In,” but that just makes it all the more difficult to create something both memorable and distinct from the original. DFA succeed with both, stripping the songs down to their bare essentials to emphasize their primal directives to dance. It reminds me of how strobe lights are used in clubs to capture snapshots of motion. You know that the people are dancing, and you don’t need to be overloaded with every image to recognize the fact.
Hot Chip’s “Colours” and Nine Inch Nails’ “The Hand That Feeds” are standouts for different reasons. The former has been straddling the fence of new wave and dance since their beginnings, and DFA grabs one leg firmly and pull towards one definitive side, and you’d be surprised which one. With heartbeat-mimicking electronic percussion as the only sound during the first minute, DFA effectively make the beautifully pensive track even more pensive, as if changing a mid period New Order tune into an early period Depeche Mode track. With Trent Reznor, an artist who has always embraced the remix, thanks to being influenced equally by both Ministry and DM, the duo discofy the sullen industrial loner until he’s only recognizable by his voice alone. The bassline even makes one think of the theme to Knight Rider more than it would an actual NIN song. It’s almost as if the song is a hybrid of Reznor and Madonna. I mean, can you imagine “Sanctify My Love?”
If you think me unkind to those DIY remixers, not DFA mind you, I’m talking about the miscreants, I was once one of you. Back in college, I too had much too much time on my hands, and thus would dub in bits of dialogue from my old Sesame Street albums to popular hip-hop tunes. Thus, Del tha Funkee Homosapien’s “Mistadobalina” was intro’d with Ernie saying, “Let me lay down some of my groovy rhythms,” or something to that effect. While amusing, it really wasn’t any good. This kind of thing is better left to the professionals, lest someone get hurt, albeit probably emotionally from ridicule. DFA are the ultimate remixers, proving that with their two chapters of such artistry, they deserve that hallmark.
Various Artists- The DFA Remixes: Chapter One
The Chemical Brothers- Live at the Social, Vol.1
Fatboy Slim- Signature Series, Vol.1: Greatest Remixes