This is, in some ways, the precursor to the
album by Yellow6 that i loved last year. It came out a bit earlier,
but i just got it.
One weird thing i discovered is that, according to both Jon
of Yellow6 and Scott of Portal, remix albums are poorly received.
No one seems to know why, but both were shocked to see me favorably
review Source:Remix. So be forewarned: this is
another lovely remix disc that i am giving a favorable review
to, despite current trends.
But i wonder: why do people seem to not like these types of
albums? Much of the music on both of the remix albums in question
would, if it were released on a small IDM label out of a smallish
city in Germany, be hailed as amazing. I think. At least, i
listen to a fair amount of obscure electronica, and i find the
remixes here to be quiet noteworthy.
Maybe it's a context thing. Maybe the problem is that these
albums cross genres. How many other guitar drone fans like IDM?
How many IDM fans would even think to look at a remix album
by a guitar drone act when they see it in the store? I'm not
really sure how to answer either question. My experience chatting
with fellow fans on the Internet is that there is a fair amount
of crossover here. So, i dunno.
At any rate, this is a pretty good selection of remixes of
the work of Portal. Portal is mostly Scott Sinfield, although
occasionally Rachel Hughes joins in and helps him out. Here,
9 artists remix a variety of Portal tracks. The remixers are
a pretty eclectic bunch, ranging from fellow guitar drone act
(and label mate) Yellow6, to slowcore act Some of the Quiet,
to, well, all sorts of folk.
The first track starts most auspiciously with deep bass and
reverbed guitar over lonely hi-hats. This song is called Selene
and this remix is by Portraits of Diego. Overall this reminds
me of a dance remix from an early 80's goth band. The song proceeds
like that for a while, then the beat gets cut up and the reverb
is turned up into the realm of total fractured sound, and the
song becomes IDM -- the guitar is fuzzed out, and the beat is
a spastic little drum machine, flailing under the weight of
drone. Very nice.
This is followed a remix of the tune Second Thought
by Innerise. Attentive readers will note that i really liked
the remix this act turned in for that Yellow6 disc -- a low-key
almost trip-hop meets drone affair, and this is another stunning
mid-tempo piece. Which leads me to ask: who the heck is/are
Innerise? Do they/he/she/it have anything else out? These are
two fine remixes.... Anyway, this is a Portal track with vocals,
and Rachel Hughes is singing in a languid, almost bored sort
of way. This vocal style, combined with the mid tempo echoed
thumps of the beat remind me of Slowdive's In Mind remixes,
or the work of Project Skyward. Very nice. I must remember to
find out more about this "Innerise" thing....
The third track is Falling, remixed here by Yellow6.
This remix is very minimal: the first half of it consisting
almost entirely of Hughes' vocals some weird clattering percussion
(which actually sounds like Mr. Attwood mic-ed somebody slinging
around a bag of silverware!), and a very subtle guitar drone.
I find that i am so focused on Ms. Hughes clear voice that i
don't notice the drone until is swells up to momentarily overpower
the song. This is a very nice piece that reminds me of Ultravox.
I think it is the very subtle drone that references Ultravox.
The next remix, After Tomorrow by Schengen is pretty
normal early IDM, and is probably the least noticeable song
on the disk. This is followed by a sci-fi/horror movie ambient
track called Naming Stars, here remixed by Toverdroom.
Neither of these tunes are particularly long, or noteworthy.
They are followed by Before The Storm remixed by July
Skies. Maybe. When i first listened to this tune, i just assumed
that it was a Landing "remix" like the one they did for Yellow6.
I was honestly surprised to look at the liner notes and see
that it was NOT by Landing. It has slow tremoloey guitar arpeggios,
weird spacey keyboard hits, and builds very slowly, as if the
song were in no real hurry. Exactly like a Landing tune. Really.
Perhaps July Skies is a pseudonym for Landing or some combination
of it's membership? I don't know, but if you like that sort
of mellow, spacey indie pop, then you will enjoy this song.
There follows another remix of the Portal song Falling
(apparently one of their more popular numbers), here remixed
by Some of the Quiet. I have heard some tunes by this band.
I think they are from the Midwest, and that they are a slowcore
act when left to their own devices. And any rate, their remix
is quite different than Yellow6's version, but again here the
song is stripped down to mostly vocal and percussion. However,
rather than using a sackful of silverware, Some of the Quiet
use gamelan, which gives it a vaguely asian feel. And no matter
that Macha built their own damned gamelan and carried it on their
backs across the mountains of Bali, i will always associate
the sound with These Waves by Young
American Primitive. And believe me, that is a good association
to make. Overall, this is a decent tune, all light and happy.
V/VM is an aggressive electronic remixer, and here he turns
in an oddly industrial noisescape drone. It is a remix of the
song Shifting, and he has turned Portal's lovely drone
into a creepy thing. I am not so into this type of ambience,
but it is well-done.
And then the album ends in the same sort of way that it started,
with a remix of Selene. This time around the remix is
by Epic 45, and they have crafted a spacey drone that is combined
with guitar feedback. It's a nice ambient tune, but seems somewhat
odd. That is, it seems to flow in a random way. Well, i can't
really think of words to describe it, but let me just say that
it reminds me of the feel i got from the early work of Aphex
Twin. You know, around the time of Ventolin, back before
Richard James decided that his music was supposed to annoy you.
Remember how that was good stuff, but had some sort of "off
center" feel to it? This tune does the same thing.
Overall, i enjoy this disc. I think it starts out really strong
and then sort of wanders aimlessly in the middle for a bit,
but it does pick up right at the end. Overall, i would recommend
this to the people who like Source:Remix
by Yellow6, or maybe to those who enjoyed Blue
Skied an' Clear from Morr Records. If electronica
and/or drone isn't your thing, then this probably isn't for