Saturday, April 12, 2008

remix romance vol 1 & 2 by sally shapiro

I have a strained relationship with remixes. Blame it on being an electronica newbie. It just seems…overly gratuitous at times. Can’t the producer just decide on a mix and hand it over? Life is about decisions. Then again, I am currently in possession of seven different colors of Converse, proof positive my arguments in logic rarely hold up. Like my choice in footwear, there are times and places for excess, logical or otherwise. While I'll remain resolved that every indie pop band come lately doesn’t need to milk the remix cash cow, arguments for musical amnesty do exist. Case in point? My new found love and leniency towards Swedish Italo disco queen Sally Shapiro.

Yes, it's true. Somehow "her" new Remix Romance projects are exempt from my generally blanketed, thoroughly uneducated remix scorn. Blame it on being an ethereal and altogether non-existent musical presence. But if producer Johan Agebjorn and his nameless disco princess, the two driving forces behind the revival ofitalo disco, are willing to play nice with other djs and producers…then who am I really to complain?

As one might guess, Remix Romance Vol. 1 and 2 aren’t earth shattering -- you won’t find the musical reinvention of the wheel when remixing a genre that's already based in artifice. Instead what we get are different versions of the same utterly sweet songs found in 2007's Disco Romance. This isn't to say that listening isn't a rewarding venture, just one that should be undertaken with an ear for detail in drum machines and a sensitivity for Moogs. What survives, and is often improved in translation, is of course Sally’s thin and altogether pleasing voice, an instrument the most sucessful reimaginings were careful to keep near the top of the mix. In addition to it being the auditory equivalent of endorphins, her presence is an element essentially as anonymous as the intensely shy singer herself. Any meaning is derived almost exclusively by context, making Sally's disco-lite croon the perfect remix tool. Each producer draws out shades of meaning so diverse, if a listener were to take the three or more versions of each track offered and line them up, it would be easy to create a narrative arch between them. Electro-pop fanfic writers, start your engines.

Case in point is a standout in every form, the bitter-sweet holiday love story, "Anorak Christmas." The original offers the listener a cinematic, soft, snow-dusted love story. Meanwhile, Woodhand's remix on Volume 1 takes that same narrative and increases the percussion, cranking up the original melodic desire to a fevered pitch, beats never allowing listener or narrator rest long enough to see her dreams come to fruition. Some of the light-hearted longing returns in the Alexander Robotnick remix on Volume 2. It's still a tragic tale of desire for a kiss that will never come…but now you can dance to it!

The most dramatic re-interpretations are found within the variations of the song "Find My Soul," a quartet of remixes which, merit aside, I'm obliged to mention due to Jimmy Tamborello's involvement. The orginal contains stark driving beats, making its premise of soul-searching one of utmost urgency. Also on Disco Romance (and revisited again in Volume 2) is Johan Agebjörn's Norwegian Electrojazz Mix, notable not only for increasingly danceable beats, but also for the fact that Sally's quest is given an extra sense of urgency, thus fitting neatly into our narrative thesis. In Volume 1, Sally's voice is given added sensuality by Holy F-K's slow, sensual, echo-filled remix. She's getting closer.... In Volume 2, Sally's long-suffering quest is given a ghostly quality (and the song is given a change in name to "Find My Ghost") with Dntel's trademark missing synapse firing beat, and Postal Service-like mixing of vocals, putting Sally higher in the mix than any other producer. It's a winner out of two disks of altogether solid, occasionally mornful, late night electronica listening.

(photos Sally Shapiro: Frida Klingberg )

mp3: "He Keeps Me Alive" by Sally Shapiro
mp3: "Anorak Christmas (Piano mix)" by Sally Shapiro


Multifuncional said...
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TV de LCD said...
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Kaleb Coleman said...

I agree with you on the remix comment. I really hate it especially when you are trying to find the original but have to sift through 40 remixes by some known and unknown DJs. However on the flip side, through all the bad and ok remixes are some really great finds....