While the first two components (the Influences and Classics) of Warps three double CD (and triple-quadruple Vinyl) extravaganza appealed more to those who hadn't had the chance to pick up the back catalogue (or those who wanted fresh copies to grind dancefloors into old-school goodness), the 2CD remixes version has even more of a universal appeal. Not only do almost all of Warps old and new artists fall to the remix knife in one form or more, but many of them offer their re-mixing services to re-assemble the music of their label-mates. Basically, it's a who's-who affair, with tracks by Autechre, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, and Sabres of Paradise getting the treatment by everyone from Spiritualized to Luke Vibert. Over the course of 2 discs and about 175 minutes of music (pushing the very limits of what the digital format can hold), the listener is taken on a long, strange journey that's somewhat familiar, yet surprisingly new. Won't you join in?
The set opens up with a light little take on LFO/Aphex Twin's "Simon From Sydney" by Pram. If it weren't for the weird little bleeps and bloops and occasional feedback tinge on a guitar to keep me grounded, I'd feel like I was drifting through a field in the Netherlands somewhere. Although it feels somewhat updated for the 90's, Luke Viberts mix of DJ Mink's "Hey Hey! Can U Relate" doesn't really do much from the guy who we all know is capable of whipping up mad concoctions. After a very Stereolab-sounding mix of Boards of Canadas "Kid For Today", ISAN (who I've truthfully never heard of before this point) takes the ethereal sounds of Seefeel's "When Face Was Face" and turns it into a decidingly more sinister track with a deep buzz. One of the highlights of the first disc is Plaid's take on "Vletrmx" by Autechre. While it does keep sort of the same feel, they inject the track with a touch of playfulness that the antiseptic group tends to leave out in most of their original tracks.
Not to be outdone, Four Tet follows up with a mix of "Untitled" by Aphex Twin from Selected Ambient Works II. Instead of just working one track, elements of about 4 different tracks can be heard in the neapoliton mix, but it's one that works quite well. The track skitters along for awhile before drifting into those recognizable soft chimes and picking back up again. Very nice. Keeping the strong suit going, Surgeon re-works the classic "Nurture" by LFO into a stutter-stepping drum and bass number that doesn't quite know it's drum and bass. After a fairly plain mix of "Testone" by Sweet Exorcist from Winston and Ross, probably the most surprising track on the disc takes hold.
Sounding nothing like themselves of late, Autechre turns in a blistering reworking of Nightmares on Waxs' "Sal Batardes." While it does have some very Autechre-esque noises drifting in and out of the mix, the BPM is high and moves along at a crispy rate, proving that even they can bust out once in awhile. John McEntire takes another NOW track ("Playtime") and turns it into a downtempo number that shimmers and drifts along through the smokey streets. After a haunting version of Broadcasts "Hammer Without A Master" by Underdog, Rephlex's new samurai beatmaster Bogdan Raczynski takes a swipe at Autechre's "Envane" and comes out with a playfull little haphazard piece (what else were you expecting) that sounds like a junior-high band playing along with a chorus of broken Nintendo Gameboys. Finally, Mogwai turns in a more analog version of Links "Arcadian."
Oh yeah, did I mention that's just the first disc?
Starting out things on the second disc are the Push Button Objects with their take of "An Eagle In Your Mind" by Boards Of Canada (from last years Music Has The Right To Children). All the main elements of the track on in place, but off-kilter just enough to let you know it's a remix. Red Snapper is up next with a mix of the total classic "Wilmot" by Sabres of Paradise. They let things fester under the surface for awhile at the beginning of the track before finally busting loose with those catchy horns and funky bassline. Another Weatherall group Two Lone Swordsmen gets the treatment from Ellis Island Sound with their extended version of "Spine Bubbles" from Stay Down. It stays a nice little ambient number, but is given a nice little shuffling beat and some twinkling piano work.
If you're riding a merry-go-round in the year 2030, it may very well sound exactly like Wunder's remix of Mike Ink's "Polka Trax 3." Things start out with a perky little plunk of chimes, but soon that familiar gurgling Cologne Crew beat comes in to really throw things into motion. LFO's "Freeze" gets stripped to the bone by Labradford, with a mix that sounds like it could have come almost directly from their Mi Media Naraja album. With keyboard drone in place, the duo then adds those same super high-pitched tones over the top of a very slight beat. It's a definite test. Staying on the more experimental side of things, Oval turns in a pureed mix of Squarepushers "Big Loada." It may be just me, but the whole asthetic of Oval's music has become weary, and this track is no different.
Sounding almost poppy after the last few tracks is Andy Votel's reworking of "Booklovers" by Broadcast. It shuffles along with a swaggering beat and some very nice vocal parts that are kept virtually intact. Richard Devine takes Aphex Twins "Come To Daddy" and removes all vocals from it, creating an all-electronic attack that slams nearly as hard as the original. Think of many many machines malfunctioning at the same time, creating a perfect disarray of blips and bleeps and you're nearly there. Seefeel is once again given the rough treatment, this time by Mira Calix's mix of "Air Eyes."
Sweet Exorcist's "Mad Jack" starts out somewhat foreboding, but then struts into one of the sillier numbers on the disc with Jimi Tenor behind the controls. One of the coolest tracks on the disc is Plone's take on Tricky Disco's old self-titled track. They turn it into a goofy little head-bobbing smile-fest, and I'm all for it. After a fractured mix of Autechre's "Characi" by Jim O'Rourke, the epic set is closed out with a super-extended drone version of LFO's "Tied Up" by Spiritualized.
So there it is. 26 tracks, and big names everywhere you turn. The quality of the tracks overall on the set is very good, but there are a few mis-steps, as there are with nearly any remix projects. When you get together tons of people re-working tons of different artists who all have different styles, it's bound to happen. If you're a Warp fan, it's a no brainer, but if you're just looking for a heaping helping of varied music, this will also suffice quite nicely.