HiM – Remix Series #1: Japan

2 out of 5

Label: FatCat

Produced by: Various (?)

HiM’s blend of jazz, electronics, and world music elements seems like a good fit for a remix treatment, especially in the hands of the more experimentally-geared artists featured on this “series” from FatCat Records (that, I don’t believe, ever had another entry…); there’re so many layers to play with, and generally a good backing beat that I imagine would be fun to manipulate. But I suppose the meeting point of what I enjoy about HiM’s works, and what I figured remixes could offer, set this three-track offering up for relative failure versus my tastes, as the songs either minus out what I’d consider compelling, or boil the music down to a more repetitive base.

The opening take on Sworn Eye’s A Verdict Of Science is probably the culprit most responsible for dimming my reaction to this set, as Nobukazu Takemura’s take not only (assumedly) purposefully removes much of the track’s flow, sifting it through different sections of ambience before allowing things to fully get going, his remix then also downplays the song’s layers, and mutes its rhythm. This is an interesting dissection and inversion, but going back to my hopes / expectations for this Remix Series, it’s not necessarily what I would come to a HiM release to hear. It’s also the longest song here – 15 minutes – so it sets quite a precedent.

The next two remixes are from New Features. First: Susumu Yokota’s take on Out Here. This is definitely more directly accessible, but I’d also say it’s a fairly “traditional” mix in that it favors repetition – paring the song down to a beat. In doing so, and letting it loop out to about 6 minutes, it becomes pretty boring, not a descriptor I’d use for 99% of anything in HiM’s catalogue. The EP ends strongest, thankfully, with Ultra Living’s organic mix of Sea Level: this finally achieves an ideal blend that has the mark of the duo fussing with it, while also maintaining the freeflow of the original track. I suppose I could go in the opposite direction and say that it’s not enough of a remix, just in the sense that it almost sounds like a HiM track itself, but I feel like that’d be a criticism with more of a place amidst a whole album of such stuff; here, it’s a welcome comparison point.