As anyone who has any experience in construction can tell you, renovations are a tedious job filled with cobwebs
and drywall dust. But tearing apart an existing, dated structure in
order to make it appear more contemporary can create exciting changes.
That is, unless those purists who loved the original design put up too
much of a “fuss.”
compare a remix to a renovation project is not a tremendous stretch.
From its deconstructive origins to its final, completed interior
design, the remix method has had more than thirty years to move from a
novelty to full-blown art form. Remixes originally graced the grooves
of twelve-inch singles catered to disc jockeys; now they’ve become so
widespread that artists release entire CDs of them (i.e. Pet Shop Boys,
Madonna, Britney Federline).
Fast forward another ten years or so to the release of Leslie Feist’s Open Season,
a ramshackle collection of remixes and “collabs.” Quite likely released
in an effort to maintain the excellent momentum her 2004 sophomore
release, Let It Die, has recently achieved, I cannot help but wonder if this is foreshadowing for her third record.
for an appropriately soft launch, the disc begins with a solo piano
rendition of “One Evening” by Feist’s main collaborator, Gonzales, as
well as a jazzier take on “Inside and Out” with label-mate Apostle of Hustle.
Once the opening preparations are made, the first of four (!) remixes
of “Mushaboom” appears, this time with slight electronic embellishment
courtesy of Mocky. Rounding out a small set of remixes is an intriguing
version of (yep, you guessed it) “Mushaboom” by K-Os, where he manages to reference Feist, Broken Social Scene and himself in his short bridge.
comes the “collabs” section. Beginning with the sweet but ultimately
uninspiring “Snow Lion,” the disc slowly descends to its weakest
moment: “The Simple Story,” a jazzy collaboration with Jane Birkin
taken from the French singer’s 2004 album Rendez-Vous.
Ending the disc with an excellent giddy electro-pop take on “Mushaboom” by the Postal Service
(which sounds oddly like a Postal Service song — go figure) and three
bouncy remixes by VV (consisting of Gonzales and Renaud Letang), the
album takes on a more fashionable, metropolitan feel — call it “Feist
and the City,” if you like.
the fact that forty percent of the musical input has been influenced by
Gonzales, Letang or Mocky is what kept the flow of the CD intact. Open Season could have used a Star Wars Episode 1-esque Phantom Edit
(trim some excess fat — lose a version of “Mushaboom,” perhaps?).
There’s nothing ground-breaking here, but the album does achieve what
it set out to accomplish: prove that remixes don’t need to be
over-the-top to be successful, that collaborations do not need to be
“We Are the World,” and that Leslie Feist is one of the best female
vocalists to grace a record. For a slight little “fixer-upper”
renovation project, that is a pretty reasonable accomplishment. At
least, it’s better than drywall dust in your eye.
Feist Web site (streaming audio)