British-born, Berlin-based superstar deejay and infamous remix artist Ewan Pierson has not released a proper album since 2001’s Small Change, but he has been hardly silent. He’s compiled an enormous amount of remix work and, with residencies in Berlin, Paris and Ibiza, has built his reputation as a deejay. The double-disc Piece Work, a collection of twenty-one of his best remixes, from the likes of Depeche Mode, Goldfrapp and Franz Ferdinand, highlights Pearson’s expertise as a deejay for working the dance-floor while letting the tracks’ hooks do the rest. But it lacks a personal touch.
Most of Pearson’s tracks throb and bustle with bouncing 4/4 kick drums, glossy synthesizers and pop-friendly vocals. Remixes of Manila’s “Seelenluft” and Playgroup’s “Make It Happen” push all the right buttons as driving house-infected bangers. Others, such as the Rapture’s “I Need Your Love” and Royksopp’s “49 Percent,” feel a bit thin; the former meanders without any direction and the latter veers into kitschy house terrain by failing to evolve into anything more than a sensual vocal and pounding beat.
Impressively, Pearson tinkers with his formula from time to time and with spectacular results. Cortney Tidwell’s “Don’t Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up” and Silver City’s “Shiver” become expansive atmospheric exercises in progressing texture and mood, sacrificing the overly deliberate catchiness that Pearson is so reliant on for most of Piece Work but never losing any accessibility.
Since Pearson gave up producing original work in 2000, his reliance on using established tracks in making his own artistic statements may have left his personal creativity a bit undeveloped. His aesthetic intentions appear to be more the result of fearing to disappoint the audience rather than exploring his development. Piece Work is a platform for Pearson to make a statement about himself, but what it lacks is anything that would make it endearing to the audience. Rather, what we have is a collection of club-friendly tracks that are likely to thrill, unlikely to inspire, and, most unfortunately, bound to be forgotten.