For some reason, the humble remix has popped up in both conversations and in my listening an awful lot recently. And, of course, it got me thinking the other day. What makes a good remix? Is it simply to provide yet more dancefloor fodder, or to make a song a hit, or to take a look at a song in a totally different way to before?
I'd say that it could well be any one of these – and to that end, I pulled together a list of ten remixes that are my favourites. No particular order, and certainly no ranking. Other suggestions welcome, as I'm damned certain I've missed a couple of cracking remixes somewhere along the line…
It should be noted, though, that not all remixes are all that good. The remix has been used as a rather blatant selling tactic (remember all-and-sundry having a Fatboy Slim or Chemical Brothers remix in the 90s?), or as a "will this do" filler on albums and singles. Some of them are just lazy in their execution, too, but I'm not going to mention them here.
Some of the ones I have heard in the past week have been intriguing – including the remixes on the new Modulate Skullfuck EP, the new Front Line Assembly Fallout EP, and another which I can't name at this stage, and all of them help continue to prove my view that the remix can indeed be a useful tool.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me, or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Destillat (VNV Nation Remix)
As many readers will already know, I have never been a fan of VNV's own output, but when it comes to their remixes of other artists, it is another matter entirely. There have been a number of brilliant VNV remixes, but this is undisputably top of the tree – turning what was a so-so track into an industrial dancefloor monster.
/Scapegoat (Pigfuck Remix)
/Fear Is The Mindkiller
This comes from a seminal release – Fear Is The Mindkiller, where Rhys Fulber and Bill Leeb from Front Line Assembly remixed four tracks from Soul Of A New Machine, and transformed FF from an interesting death metal band into a futuristic sounding cyber-metal band. Next release Demanufacture, and companion remix album Remanufacture, remain stone-cold classics of forward-looking nineties metal, but arguably wouldn't have existed at were it not for this.
/I Hate My Fucking Job (RMX by Imperative Reaction)
This band are a little-known (in the UK, anyway) band from Phoenix, and I was only introduced to this track by a fellow DJ at tcf. While most of the band's output is Industrial/Metal in the form of Acumen Nation, this seething rant at life in a shitty job sounded somewhat thin in it's original format, but once IR got their hands on it – and keeping the great Red Dwarf sample – it was turned into a bouncing, raging beast with a decent production…
/Ready To Face (Violent Machine Mix)
Another band to benefit from similar treatment is this one, whose sparse-sounding Ready To Face (hear the original here) was transformed into a nightmarishly dense track that uses little more than the beat and synth melody from the original – the rest replaced by multitracked vocals, heavy treated guitars and samples, and all kinds of other electronics.
/Voodoo People (Pendulum Mix)
/Voodoo People EP
The track that made stars of Pendulum, it was played everywhere for months and raised the roof on the dancefloor every time it was played – and with good reason. This masterful remix breathed new life into an old favourite, and perhaps helped us remember why we loved The Prodigy in the first place. And until you try and dance to it, it is difficult to notice that the tempo gradually increases through the course of the track!
/Dragula (Si Non Oscillas, Noli Tintinnare mix/Hot-Rod Herman mix)
/American Made Music To Strip By
These two "mixes" are one and the same – the Charlie Clouser take on Rob Zombie's most famous track. While the original is a gleeful ode to The Munster's Drag Racer, in three-and-a-half minutes of bouncy metallic fun, this remix turns everything that little bit darker, and made for an even better dancefloor track than the original.
/Euphoria (Emirian Mix by Charlie Clouser)
Another Charlie Clouser mix, but this deserves to be included too. Stretching out the already long original to nearly seven minutes, with a extended tripped-out intro, beef-up guitars and a much cleaner sound (and unmistakeably a Clouser remix, too), such was the success of this mix that it became the basis of their video edit of the track and the live version of it too – a rare example of a remix almost totally supplanting the original.
/Sick (Destroid has no Dignity mix)
/Evil Gets An Upgrade
I'm not a huge fan of this band generally, but this remix is simply astonishing – a pounding, crushing beat, pushing the vocals up front, and cleaning up the really rather muddy mess that is the original.
/Kiss The Whip (RMX by S.I.N.A.)
One track that never really needed anything doing with it was the abrasive Kiss The Whip. Quite possibly the highlight of Asche's remix album Distorted DJ, this S.I.N.A. remix is more of a rework, with additional vocals and beats that help to change the feel of the track entirely. Never exactly the easiest artist to listen to, this remix helped to kinda smooth the raw edges somewhat.
/Judith (Renholder Mix)
By stripping away all the instrumentation, and marrying Maynard James Keenan's voice to a sparse electronic backdrop, Danny Lohner's remix of one of APC's best known tracks created a whole new track – and one that easily stands up as one of the band's finest moments. And it also just helps to showcase how strong and versatile a vocalist Maynard is.