I don’t understand the reasoning behind remix albums. When artists agree to allow their work to be flipped, flopped and sonically fucked with, are they surreptitiously conceding that their original was deficient in some category? Surely not. Is the artist merely trying to breathe new life into a work so masterful that it merits manipulation and re-release? I don’t think so. In most cases, remix albums are solely concerned with one decidedly unambitious thing. I don’t know the true impetus behind Alter, but I believe Hydra Head enlisted a cavalcade of deejays to refashion a collection of songs by Knut (pronounced “kuh-newt”) for one reason: to sell more records without having to pay for a new one. Novel, I know.
In the interest of full disclosure, allow me to first admit that (a) I enjoy Knut’s music, but in no way “celebrate” the band’s catalog; (b) I have never met a remix record I truly liked; and (c) I used to wet the bed. (Okay, only two are true … but which two?) For a devout (and fairly insulated) metalhead like me, venturing into remix territory was a scary prospect. After multiple listens to Alter and intense research into the remix subgenre, here’s what I learned: I still don’t like remix albums.
If Alter were an animal, it would be a platypus. An anomaly of natural selection, both Alter and the platypus are too dumb to realize how ugly they are. On “5 Turn Grinner Mix,” former Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris assembles an unlistenable assortment of blips and farts that the even the most secure heterosexuals could not listen to with the windows down. Where, Mr. Harris, is the Knut? Like several of the songs, “Psychopathic Engine” merely hides Knut in the background, while distracting the listener with computer-based drums in the foreground. I don’t get it. KK Null’s contribution, “Dekompozition,” is an otherwise unmolested Knut song, except a minute and a half in it becomes completely obscured by white noise. Huh? Lucas Tamarit and Julien Sauser’s “Whacked Out” is just that, and Oren Ambarchi and company’s “Korn Boys” made me eject the CD to make sure there wasn’t a deep gash that had caused it to skip, which it sounded like it was doing the entire song.
Alter has left me with more questions than answers. Should the original work remain audible in its remixed form? Has the “mashup” outmoded the lowly remix? And, most important, who listens to this stuff?
Knut on Hydra Head’s Web site: http://www.hydrahead.com/knut/
Hydra Head Records Web site: http://www.hydrahead.com/“Torvalds” MP3