There's an argument for Dark Captain Light Captain being my personal "Act of 2008". After the Circles EP and the Jealous Enemies single, the much anticipated debut album was the icing on the cake. At the very least, they were my favourite new discovery.
Things have been quiet this year, however, and one imagines them hard at work on the follow-up, whilst the management ponder on ways of maintaining momentum and keeping them in the spotlight during this fallow year. "I know!" you can almost imagine someone saying. "We'll release an EP full of remixes of old favourites!"
And so, as the summer of 2009 closes, this undoubted stop gap release sees the light of day. Whether you'll feel the need to own it depends very much on your attitude to remixes. I know at least one person who has no time whatsoever for them, saying that he's glad Elvis released that mix of Heartbreak Hotel, and that he doesn't need to hear any variations. Amazingly, this person is under the age of seventy!
Me? Well I like hearing alternative mixes, live versions and other people playing with – and subverting! – old faves, even if I don't always enjoy the results. I certainly couldn't bear to be without Four Tet's superb take on Caribou's Melody Day, a beautiful record that would sit next to Dark Captain Light Captain very nicely.
As for this remix EP, is there anything here that betters the original version? Well, there just might be, because the Vernal Equinox Remix of Summer is colossal as it goes all Can-like with some stabbing bass that Holger Czukay would be proud of. It's surely destined to end up as one of my favourite tracks of the year.
Another that pushes the original all the way is the Hatchback remix of Questions, which initially accentuates the track's prettiness before building nicely. The Hatchback dub version of Questions is worth hearing as well – underneath the pretty music box there's an almost Nick Drake-like melancholy before things go slightly Bowie during the Berlin period. Elsewhere the Chicken Feed Remix of Remote View gives it a more bubbly, dancey feel, whilst the Here Be Monsters Remix of Miracle Kicker is one of those remixes that is less a re-working than an annihilation . Indeed, there's little left of the original track. Still, it works in its own way, and if soundscapes are your bag then you might want to hear this.
I was going to write that Dark Captain Light Captain can now get back to following up Miracle Kicker safe in the knowledge that they've seen their name attached to one of the year's best releases without really trying. However, I've just heard that they've got some live dates coming up, so the recording may have to be put on hold. Personally I hope that this remix EP is indicative of where Dark Captain Light Captain are going – if they take their keen sense of melody and those hushed harmonies and marry them to, say, the freeness of the version of Summer found here, then we could be in for something quite breath-taking.