Various Artists – Remixes (Analogical Force)

4 out of 5

Label: Analogical Force

Produced by: Various

Accepting that all reviews are subjective – something I’m sure I’ve said before, whatever that says about me – compilation / various artists sets are even moreso, because they’re a mixed bag by design. If you don’t like track A, B, or C, you might still like track D. Now throw a remix layer on top of this, meaning your original track A isn’t even any longer track A but someone else’s take on it… and trying to review such a thing from a content perspective almost seems unfair.

So: I’m looking at this from a few different perspectives. Firstly, as an album: does Analogical Force’s remix set offer up a worthwhile listen in terms of variation, and sequencing? Then, on a secondary level, do the remixes actually offer up something new for those who’re drawn in by either the original version’s artist or the remixer?

While I’m continually wary of AF’s need to unnecessarily claim some Rephlex-branded, Braindance crown, the answer to both of those judgements – some indulgences aside – is yes. Remixes is a solid slab of electronica throughout, offering up everything the label does as a whole (meaning some of its eye-rolling Aphex swipes included), and divvied up such that you’re never too far away from a new flavor of something. It’s also a great resource for discovering new jams, as the majority of the work here adds new feelings to the source material, offering an eager listener the option to check out the original artist or the person who chopped it up for further tracks.

I’m always curious with remixes to do side-by-side comparisons, so after giving the album as a whole its paces, I did just that: one by one, hearing what I considered “added” or “subtracted” as the songs were redone. That leaves us with three categories: tracks that I feel went the standard “let’s add a beat to it” route, or that missed out on adding much of value; tracks that rearranged things such that the original mood is maintained, but the remix still stands on its own; and tracks that are just ground-up something new. The first set is very limited, thankfully, with only two or three offenders. One of those is kind of a cheat, because the remixer did do their work, but it’s in the most stereotypical “ma, lookit me I like Braindance” kinda way i.e. what AF is sometimes criticized for, and, unfortunately, it opens the album. But past that, the album is a fair split between the other two, with some really nuanced stuff – the remixer really putting in the work – coming out the more you revisit some songs, and check out how comparatively sparse the originals are.

Since, as mentioned, whether the unremixed or mixed takes are best is a matter of opinion, I won’t do a track rundown, but my favorite here is probably DWAALLICHT’s remix of Daed – house-ing the shit of a fun, but fairly simplistic Daed song.

The one thing I didn’t do was check out all of the remixers on their own, but of those with which I was familiar, I do think the tracks bear their marks more than the source artist, which is another plus – again, it supports that this set potentially provides a lot of musical avenues to explore.

So, yes, you get the IDM breakbeats of some of AF’s flashier fare, but you also get the full range of downtempo, house, acid, and electro that proves that the label has a deep bench worthy of checking out, chopped up by an equally talented batch of musicians and sequenced for our ideal listening pleasures.