Review ·

If you've poked around the internet's more tawdry corners you've probably heard of Rule 34. For the uninitiated, the rule reads: If it exists, there is porn of it. The general premise here being that due to the web's diverse user base and the ease of distributing content, it's possible to find something to scratch your itch, no matter how specific that itch is. I'd like to argue for another cyberspace axiom, albeit one with less anatomical concerns: If there is a song, there is a remix of it. San Francisco-based psych outfit Moon Duo does its part to support the theory with the release of Mazes Remixed. Featuring reworked versions of seven tracks from last year's critically lauded Mazes, this set of remixes with work much like niche porn. That is, not everyone will get the appeal but it will leave Moon Duo enthusiasts very happy.

This isn't to say the album lacks an intrinsic appeal. The tracks, worked over by genre buddies like Sonic Boom, Gary War, and Psychic Ills, are all enjoyable in their own right. Sonic Boom's take on “Scars” retains the track's jaunty vibe while turning up the warmth with looping guitar notes and layered hand-claps. Similarly, Caves' handling of “Run Around” tones down the original's crunchy riffage in favor of smoother textures that unfurl over a longer running time. Like all of the cuts on the album, both hold up well against their antecedents—though by not straying far from the source material it's hardly a major feat.

 

When the contributors do wander further from the originals, they fare just as well. Gary War puts the straight-forward rocker “When You Cut” through something of a sonic blender. Coming out the other side is a truncated version that somehow packs glowering pitch-shifted vocals, swirling synths, and multiple time changes into just over three minutes of running time. The reworkings uncovers the mind-bending psychedelic turbulence that most of the Moon Duo's recordings only hint at. Taking the same approach to a lesser extent is Sonic Boom's “Fall Out.” Like the original the song it kicks off with a grounded groove, but halfway through echoing laser effects begin to lift the track into the stratosphere where it expands outward into an extremely satisfying extended fade out. The only real misstep comes from Purling Hiss's rendering of “In the Sun.” Rather than playing with the song's persistent organ line, the Philadelphia-based group decides to smother the entire groove in a gratuitous guitar solo—it's not exactly a thoughtful engagement of the piece.

 

From start to finish, the album retains a more or less cohesive tone—a not all-together surprising fact given the pedigree of the contributors. However, considering the rich material these bands had to work with, it's a little disappointing no one attempted a radical departure from the sound Mazes already achieved. That doesn't necessary mean Moon Duo should have tapped Daft Punk to turn “Scars” into a four-on-the-floor stomper, but part of the joy of the remix is hearing the familiar get turned completely inside out. Hidden within Mazes' pulsating grooves are charged drum fills, plenty of organ stabs, and reams or buzzing guitar that could have been stitched into everything from droning soundscapes to tight break beats. Maybe next time the band will encourage some more overt experimentation—after all, out there on the internet someone is bound to get off on it.   

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