2005: Me as astronaut John Glenn circa 1965, my friend as a bumblebee.
He’s running the wheels of steel for the evening. I’m stumbling
downstairs for more dancing.
“Death From Above 1979!” I request, myself desperately in need of an adrenaline shot of Canadian dance rock.
“I just played some. You were outside. Quit being drunk,” responds the bee.
“Bullshit. Stop your lying!” I wail back.
bumblebee gives in and slides out the MSTRKRFT (Death From Above 1979
bassist Jesse F. Keeler and producer Al-P) version of “Little Girl.”
Costume dance party’s going strong, record transition goes smooth and
we survey the response.
cut it off,” I howl as the party screeches to a halt, confused by the
stuttered but inevitably danceable re-tweaking of one of the standout
tracks from 2004’s You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine. Maybe it’s the volatile concoction of whiskey sour and Vitamin P that’s clouding my head, but color me unimpressed.
from my initial reaction to the world of Death From Above 1979 remixes,
my post-John Glenn self felt little enthusiasm for Romance Bloody Romance,
Vice’s holiday offering of a Death From Above 1979 remix and B-side
album. But squashing my cynicism, the record’s head-turning and
sometimes neck-snapping remixes show a diversity and creativity that
avoids the trap of feeling like a kitschy ‘tween-albums project,
something Vice’s remix effort for Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm couldn’t avoid.
the best moments is Josh Homme’s electro-stoner redesign of “Black
History Month,” which works in perfect contrast to the fabulously
abrasive Phones Lovers remix of “Romantic Rights.” The finest tracks,
however, push the drum/bass/sometimes-synth duo’s energetic rock to its
dance-floor potential. Alan Braxe and Fred Falke transform “Black
History Month” into a glimmering house track and isolate Sebastien
Grangier’s vocals, transforming him into a crooning soul singer.
“Romantic Rights (Marczech Makuziak Remix),” with its vocoder vocals
and subtle funk guitar, is some of the best Euro-sleaze you’re going to
pump out of a Canadian. And Erol Alkan’s “Love From Below Re-Edit” of
the same song builds with a repeated vocal slice that jumps between
speakers atop blistering percussion.
addition to minor faults in the two non-remix tracks – “Better Off
Dead,” a cover of Boston rockers Le Peste, and the B-side “You’re
Lovely (But You’ve Got Problems)” – are slight downfalls in the
record’s lack of variety in the source material. Romance Bloody Romance matches You’re a Woman‘s twelve original songs with twelve tracks of its own, but unlike Silent Alarm Remixed,
which took apart its original track by track, this record repeats its
most popular material: four versions of “Romantic Rights” and four of
“Black History Month.” But by ditching an interesting principle (an
entire album remixed is such a cool idea in theory), Romance Bloody Romance
strides forward in quality, proving that sticking with the stronger
tracks is the best idea for a project like this. “Black History Month”
alone carries enough variety as it touches on sounds as diverse as
smooth house to relaxed soundtracks for sleepy bong rips to frantic
hardcore to sobbing violin-infused seductions (thanks, Owen Pallett).
The lesson I’ve learned: John Glenn and the bumblebee need to start rolling with a crowd that can recognize a quality remix.
Music and video from You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine: http://www.deathfromabove1979.com/default.html
Stream You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine:
Vice Records Web site: http://www.vice-recordings.com/
Death From Above 1979 Web site: http://vox.bandzoogle.com/users/deathfromabove1979/