Remix albums have their pros and cons, like everything else in life. The pro is that, if the reworks are chosen and made with care, they can offer minutes of valuable music, something it would be ridiculous to say no to, as we’re not about reject anything –and in the worst case it would simply be a bad record, like the one Disney released of Daft Punk, and you can simply throw them away if it’s too much for you. The real con of remix albums is that with them, the magic of the original disappears: their different interpretations of something that was conceived as it was, where listening to it gives you the feeling of “something’s not right”. In the case of “Black Noise”, Pantha Du Prince’s third album, the feeling is magnified by the fragile beauty and delicate construction of the textures the Hamburger applied to his original tunes. It isn’t a conventional techno record. Without avoiding the body-to-body of the beat, Pantha Du Prince worked on every structure and melody as if they were pieces of craftsmanship, a Murano crystal, with dedication and care, beautifully shaping an album that is defined by its concept. The moment before disasters happen, the “black noise”, the seconds of infinite calmness right before the chaos of earthquakes, avalanches and volcano outbursts acts as an internal dynamic, as seen with X-ray vision.
Now the remixes are here. The title says eleven, in Roman numerals, but there are fewer than that, actually: most of them have already been released on vinyl –the natural habitat of this kind of stuff– and only a few of them are new, made especially for this release. We knew, by the 12”s of “Stick To My Side” and “Lay In A Shimmer”, that the idea was good: only kindred spirits were asked for the job and that’s why his blood brothers from the Dial label are there ( Efdemin, Lawrence, Carsten Jost) and musicians who keep both the melody and the dancefloor spirit intact ( Four Tet, Walls). All in all, what makes the re-creations different from the original is the loss of naïveté and purity that characterises the album: the trot of the remixes is, in general, more upbeat, though they never gallop for the dancefloor. The sombre tone remains, albeit less pronounced. Still, you have to give it to Rough Trade – they do have good taste: Moritz Von Oswald is the one who is most loyal to the original on a very floating version of “Welt Am Draht” –to which Die Vogel add a brass section, like a Kraftwerk fanfare in the mountains of Tirol–; The Sight Below conserves the hypnotic sound of “A Nomad’s Retreat”, with more beat and hi-hats –the same goes for Hieroglyphic Being on “Satellite Sniper”–, but the one who completely breaks off the engagement is the Animal Collective remix of “Welt Am Draht”. They manage to maintain the pastoral mood –but with heavy rains coming– with bells, vocal monodies, harmonic chaos and an almost transparent ambient background. The good remix albums, therefore, are like these: inferior to the original but maintaining a short distance, valuable on its own, beyond the original platonic mould. So more pros than cons, I’d say.
Pantha du Prince - Welt Am Draht (Animal Collective Remix)