Saturday, July 30, 2011

#10: Swoon - The Chemical Brothers

A word about remixes. A lot of people don't like them because they wreck all that is good and holy about the original (if the original was good, or holy for that matter). Still more say that the remixers have absolutely no creativity and pretty much steal the idea from the original. Nothing could be further from the truth. A remix is the vision of two different artists meshed together to create something different altogether. Maybe the artists have similar tastes, maybe they don't. Either way, it's refreshing to see something a little bit different to the same sort of crap that some artists chuck out. And speaking of crap, here is our case in point (which is anything BUT crap):

The original version of Swoon by the Chemical Brothers. Quick review: it's a pretty epic song. There. Easy. The only thing easier would be reviewing Angger Dimas' stuff: with a few exceptions, most of his songs can be described with four-letter words. But anyway. Below is the Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas remix:
Here is the Boys Noize "Summer" remix:
And finally, this is the Don Diablo remix:

Hopefully you can see the obvious and not-so-obvious differences between the four tracks. My humble (I swear!) opinion is that the Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas remix is a little more average than the original, while the Boys Noize remix is stellar. The Don Diablo remix is a little more akin to the original than the others - in fact, it sounds very much like a broken version of the original. Each one has its pros and cons and each and every single one is a good song. As I said before, they're hybrids of the creative geniuses of the Chemical Brothers and the songs' respective remixers. Note that I'm admittedly biased towards Boys Noize (because Boys Noize kick arse).

I'll start with the Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas remix. Compared to the others (and the original), it has more of a Flight Facilities-esque chilled electro house beat to it. One could be forgiven initially for thinking that the original was an acoustic track and that Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas just chucked an electro beat behind it, stirred it up, and let it loose. Clearly that's not the case. It's much like chilled - almost deep - house of yesteryear than the electric guitar hit that the original is. Mind, that's like comparing apples (the original) to orange juice with ice and a fancy glass and those cute little umbrellas you get in cocktails, served freshly squeezed on a beach in Hawaii during a cloudless 28°C (~82°F) sunset (the remix). I love orange juice. Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas have taken the song down a couple of notches, but since "down" is "downtempo" rather than "negative" I'd say they did a pretty good job, but overall I rate the song NSFP (not suitable for parties).

And now I get to rip the Boys Noize remix to shreds. The problem is... I can't actually sink my claws into it. The song is an amazing standalone song, and if I didn't know it was a remix I wouldn't believe it if you told me, even if you were strapped to a lie detector. The only real complaint I've heard comes from a friend, who reckons the buildup at the start is a little more, erm, unimpressive. That said, it redeems itself (he continued) by building it up to something a little more epic. Boys Noize didn't wreck the song (he continued further) - they built their own magic on to an already amazing song. To that statement (my turn, finally), I completely agree. Having heard the remix before the original, however, as I said I'm somewhat biased towards the Boys Noize remix. Having said that, it's very hard for me to imagine anything better than the end of this song to end an album. Bliss.

Finally, the Don Diablo remix. I confess I know very little about Don Diablo and I knew even less about the remix before I wrote this post (I've actually written this over a span of six days, thanks largely to lack of sleep and fucking uni schedules) but I found it when I was searching YouTube for the other three videos. Originally it sounds like a damaged version of the original, but oh my various gods1 does it redeem itself beautifully. It seems to have been created as less of a party song and more of an energiser (a pre-song to go with the pre-drinks, if you will) but, again, I'd personally use it as a night-ender rather than a night-starter. Either way, I can't pick a style of house for this song. It seems to be a mishmash of three or four different styles - it starts out as almost grungy house (think LMFAO) but it develops into... what? Something. Something that pleases my aural canal. (If that's even a technical phrase.) I would play this over and over if I was a DJ. But I'm not, so I'll settle for casual listening, because unfortunately I can't see this remix becoming a sound of Melbourne any time soon.

Sing with me! Just remember to fall in love, there's nothing else...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

#9: Remember Me?

Time for three in a row again. This time, it's the history of a song I've been liking for a while.

I'm sure you recognise this one for two or three reasons if you're an Australian with decent music tastes. More than likely you've somehow heard the original, or you've heard the sampling done by Ghostface Killah. Jazz to rap. Erk. But the main one I'm talking about is the sampling done for a 1997 acid jazz one-hit-wonder that turned into an Australian megahit ten years afterwards. Remember this? It's the one who had your babies. (And I want its babies.)

This is my favourite out of all three. Though I don't completely agree with sampling, on the basis that it's not originality, this could almost be considered a remix. It's fun. And it's another Melbourne night song. I was first introduced to this by an acid jazz fan and I haven't looked back. In fact, I put this in my Melbourne mix.

Acid jazz. It's a genre not too many people have heard of, and those who have are more obscure than Amy Winehouse Insane Clown Posse. Basically, acid jazz is NOT a fusion of acid and jazz. That would be silly. Acid jazz is probably more akin to jazz fusion than acid, because acid is just... mindblowing. And not in a good way. It's like receiving a blowjob when you don't want one. I only say that because the word "blow" has been put into my head. But there is a reason for it: it's good, but you don't want it to last too long, otherwise your head will explode from the paradox. Acid is something I'll save for another day, with an artist like A*S*Y*S who probably deserves some kind of entry here. But acid jazz is beautiful. It's stuff that should be listened to after 10:30pm, and perhaps even after a night out. If you're the kind of person who doesn't go straight to bed after a night out on the town, but prefers instead to listen to some kind of music (yes, I am one of those people. Yes, I have a playlist of such music. Yes, I listen to it. No, I'm not a freak. I know others who do that) then acid jazz is a really good option.

Enough about acid jazz and more about Remember Me. I like it for its simplicity and possibly its similarity to classic house (when HOUSE was HOUSE and all that crap that some day you'll hate me for saying). Not necessarily for its samplee, because I never liked soul/rhythm and blues. Respected, but not liked. Still, I suppose I should respect Woman Of The Ghetto for giving us a song by Blueboy. On the other hand, this was released in response:

Tame Impala shoulda quit while they were ahead with Sundown Syndrome and Solitude Is Bliss (yes, I know Solitude Is Bliss came after this. No, I'm not going to change that sentence). Those were good songs. This isn't. Apart from being a cover of a sample, they sped up the original so that they could fit in a dozen more iterations of "Remember me? I'm the one who had your babies" and five dozen more scats. And scat is about right for this song. Making a song more repetitive is not cool. You're already showing a lack of creativity by making a cover, now you're doing it even more by adding the same shit over and over? That makes the song, as a whole, about as interesting as a hole. Saying something five times is enough. Taking the extra thirty seconds to add another seventeen repetitions is boring and you're probably already sick of it. Not only that, but you're focussing on the instrument with possibly the most dischord in your entire arsenal: your voice. At least you're keeping on key, but my gods, you're making a pretty cool song sound bland. Seriously, if you're going to cover a song, do it well. There's only a small handful of covers I can genuinely say I like. One of them cuts out lyrics entirely. Seriously, Tame Impala, stick to songs like Sundown Syndrome, because that song makes you sound like the Beatles. I didn't like the Beatles' music but I respected it, and I will give you good points for sounding like them.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

#8: CJ's Addictions 2

Your face when you realised this was in my collection:

For some reason when it came on the airwaves it resonated through my body, despite the fact that it's rap/hiphop. I'm told that the main reason is because it's an electronic song if you strip away the rap in the foreground. Yes, true, but the same can be said about the most disgusting RnB/hiphop songs that are hitting mainstream radio stations even as I write this post. Just because it's got a few bells and whistles doesn't mean it's a good song (yes, David Guetta, that means you too). In fact, I'm even less likely to like the mass-produced garbage that it is, so that makes this song almost literally a diamond in the rough.

I suppose what I like about it is that it's not a stereotypical song that either trash-talks someone (or a group of people), doesn't have the words "fuck" or "nigga" or "bitch" or "DAYYYYYYYUM" in it (though it does make copious references to fairy tales), and actually evolves. It's also damn catchy, has a little more substance than just beep and bass, and sounds like a Melbourne night. Alright, maybe not a typical Melbourne night, but my Melbourne night. Idealism FTW!

Speaking of Melbourne nights, that's the theme as I carry on to Crave You.

Dayyyyyyyum, unfortunately this version isn't the full version (only the radio edit) but all you really miss is a bit of fluff that DJs use to mix songs into and out of this song. Every other element is there - the minimalistic synths that manage to avoid being beep and bass, evolution of the music over time to a resounding climax, and the lyrics - oh, the lyrics! - that resonate with me so much, especially during my high school years. The only difference was that everyone didn't stare at me. I stared at her and I simply wanted her more because she looked the other way. The song is a very charming observation about humanity, if purely because of that one line. Perhaps that's why I love it. It's so easy to grab some delicious "Gem Lines" out of it. In fact, the line "I simply want him more because he looks the other way" is deserving of one of my Gem Line awards - the first for this blog. Another one (which I can't award here as I haven't reviewed its parent song) is the rather accidental "everybody wants somebody everybody wants" from a Kid Sister song. I might chuck it up here at some stage, who knows. But at the moment, I'm sticking with Crave You - a song that's a year old but still reminds me of the room in which I first heard it, at night time. Love it. Seriously, love it. And love Giselle Rosselli's voice.

Finally, here's one without a voice.

I discovered Dewdrops when I was listening to an album full of morning psy, at some stage in 2009/10 (can't remember now). Perhaps it's not morning psy, or even psy (I'd go so far as to lump it in under house or dream trance, perhaps). Either way, it's delicious. And it's Vibrasphere. Ooh boy, do I love Vibrasphere. Not just because of the really funky name ("VIBRASPHERE"! Who comes up with this gold nuggets?) but because of the really kickass songs, most (if not all) of which have absolutely no vocals to get in the road of a really class-act... erm, act. I'd also hugely recommend Follow Me, Erosion, Autumn Lights (ooh baby! I wet myself with delight when my iPod shuffles onto that song), Morning Breeze, Forever Imaginary (Owl City should put some lyrics to that song...), and Seven Days To Daylight. Vibrasphere know how to tickle my fancy, by a long way. Light, fluffy soundscapes that, while they're not necessarily going to make it huge (even on Triple J or even Rage), still take me away to my private little fantasy world and love me in almost every way possible. They don't over-emphasise bass, percussion or... anything, really. The music is subtle. Dewdrops (a collaboration with Ticon) is sublime in that sense - a shining example of why I love morning psy. Too bad Vibrasphere have split up. Oh well. Legacy time!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

#7: Future Of The Future [Stay Gold] - Deep Dish ft. Tracey Thorn

I'm going to go a few years back. Wind your digital watch back to 1996/1998 (whichever you feel best with).

When HOUSE WAS HOUSE. This is probably one of the more magical songs to come out of that era, not least for its distinctive house beat and not the grungy bullshit that's being churned out these days - the pure deep house that people used to love. Yeah, that's right, you used to love this stuff. Even you chumps who satisfied with whatever the hell was being played on the radio, you loved this stuff. You lapped it up, just as you lapped up the Backstreet (or Backdoor) Boys. And now you've forgotten that love affair entirely and moved on to hiphop.

It's a song about moving on and not looking back. (Ironically, that's what I'm doing here.) This song, as I've said, epitomises everything that was good about house: a good four-to-the-floor beat accompanied by sweeping electronica and very little in the way of harsh computer beeps; mellow, deep lyrics and a mellow, deep voice to go with it (Tracey Thorn ♥); a quick breakdown followed by a stirring (and almost melancholy) build-up and release afterwards; the same hypnotic melody until the end, where it goes from one style to another so seamlessly. The song is almost like those really comfy jumpers your grandma used to knit you. The ones without seams. The ones that you have a look back at in twenty years time and remember how warm and comforting and amazing your childhood was before you got into this modern age of grungy electronica and paying bills.

What ya gonna do about me now?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

#6: I Feel Something (Two Fresh rmx) - Q45 & Kato ft. Miss Purple

First of all, what the hell is "clubstep"? Sounds like a big attempt to justify the existence of dubstep by making it sound clubby and housy and making it look like the stuff actually belongs somewhere. That's not to say that this song isn't cool, in its own way. In fact, I fell in love with it because of its really really unique sound starting at ~1'13" and the fact that it sounds like a rainy day from ~3'12" to ~3'26". OK, so it doesn't. But to me it does. I enjoy it because it puts me in a rainy mood and hell, why not. Especially if you associate it with a rainy day. It's a well-known fact that rain accentuates music and... well, hell, just makes it so much more awesome. If you're short on tracks for rainy moods grab this one. Or Love On A Real Train. I'll have a looksee at Love On A Real Train real soon.

Back to this one: it's cute. Maybe not good for dubstep but it's good in its own right and I'll give it points for that. In fact, I hereby decree that every song featured here in this blog - past, present and future - nets the artists and behind-the-scenes guys 100 CJ-points. (One hundred CJ-points, by the way, are worth one Zimbabwe dollar. One old Zimbabwe dollar, that is. They're collector's items these days, I hear. Or not.)

Monday, July 4, 2011

#5: Summer In The Studio - Kinobe

Obi-Wan Kinobe?
This song got me through a reasonably traumatic experience in Yr 10 - six years ago. Yes, it's rap - DEAL WITH IT - but I needed that song at the time and I'm pretty sure I need a song to get me through Wednesday's wisdom teeth removal (on that note, no posts from me for at least a few days. Have another listen to Up Up Up if you want something to do. Either that, or get a life and visit the Wikipedias and the Googles instead). Probably won't be the same song.

It's rap. That's noticeable. In fact it's kinda freakin' obvious. It contains samples from an old song. That's noticeable too. Nicked the sounds from Summer In The City by The Lovin' Spoonful (a band name that proves sex sells - the band is named after the "spoonful" that a man can... every time he... anyway. Pearl Jam and 10cc are in the same vein). It does evoke images of summer - "blue skies", "kiddies with icecreams dripping off chins", "daddies scanning the skins", "sunsets". Didn't have to be "daddies" - coulda been "laddies" and it would have been accurate. Though I like the original I much prefer the version on the compilation I first heard it on - Chillout Sessions 3, where it fades out with the fade-in of We Are All Made Of Stars and a piano crescendo. Moving shit. Hey, uh, while I'm gone, can you do me a favour? I'm lazy and can't find stuff anyway, so I'd really like to know the lyrics to the song - specifically, the main lyrics. I'll lie here waiting until you do, so don't be strangers. Please.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

#4: A Community Service Announcement - Jonathan Boulet

According to YouTube, this song has only really achieved a status somewhere between "quietly brilliant" (sorry HTC) and "cult favourite". YouTube commenters (in an extremely rare display of intelligence) beg to differ, saying that the song has been played to bits in the UK. I'd like to think that it's more "quietly brilliant" than anything, because it's such a simple riff (as a lot of songs are, but this is perhaps more simplistic than most) and the lyrics - oh, the lyrics! - such as "living in your dreams and influence speech" reek of metaphors unknown to most, and perhaps a hint of a political message. It's not an obvious one, otherwise it's likely to end up in the same boat as a whole bunch of Lennon-esque music that is probably far too obvious to listen to with any sort of recreation. Or, to put it another way, you wouldn't listen to the music of two of the biggest Dicks in the world, Stallman and Dawkins, if all they had to say was "be left-wing". Not even if it was semi-catchy. Boulet's message is more subtle than that - so subtle that I can't quite pick it up. YMMV.

I love the idea that the video is not Boulet himself singing (bands and artists singing in their videos is poor form, and the entire video being just the band and nothing else is even worse) but it's got a plot, a message, an idea. Dehumanising people who act like they're the Ku Klux Klan or something... or maybe putting a human face on victims? Or both? Either way, quiet brilliance like this should not go unpunished - so to speak - so I'm plugging it. Dig.