Record Review: John Foxx – Underpass Remixes 2013 [part 2]

john-foxx---underpass-remixUKCD2013BUntil this year, there has only been a single post-modern remix of “Underpass.” Mark Reeder’s “Sinister Subway” mix [albeit in three edits] surfaced in 2010, along with his 5.1 remix of the classic tune on a DVD that came bundled with the “Metatronic” 2xCD/DVD collection of that year. It’s been deemed time for another go at the seminal synth classic, so first up were Dave Clarke & Mr. Jones. They’ve got the 5:57 “_unsubscribe_remake mix” that is track one.

The mix is comparable to the Mark Reeder version in 2010, in that it sounds like many of the original stems were used in its construction. If not, then they really went out of their way to emulate the original patches! The huge difference being that this mix has been flanged to within an inch of its life! The first half is close to being the seven inch mix we all know and love but the EQ has the resulting track sounding as brittle, metallic, and sharp is it has ever been. At the track’s midpoint, the cut almost goes in dub as the new bass synth becomes more prominent in the mix for the vamping that extends the cut to half of its length. By the time is wrapping up, the buildup has the bass dominant in the mix while the rhythm is dubbed out. It’s a reverent mix that doesn’t take many chances. It seems more concerned with extending the vibe for a longer running time, basically…an old school extended remix. Here’s an edit to peruse*.

Someone had to stamp them…

Someone had to stamp them…

I can’t say the same for the “Oh The Gilt mix” by John Tatlock and John Doran; the Manchester-based producer and his partner, who founded/edits ace website The Quietus. As the familiar aerosol banks of synths descend over the horizon, their resolve is fragmented into sequenced eighth notes while clanks and hisses make of the intro a close second cousin to that of Visage’s “The Anvil.” Then the new bass line enters the mix as a near-relative of the one from Gary Numan’s “It Must Have Been Years” from “Replicas,” with the last note dropped. The slow buildup coalesces once Foxx lets loose with the first “click/click/drone” as the track clicks into synch. The rhythm boxes of the original have been replaced with sampled drum loops. The one thing that remained largely untouched, were Foxx’s vocals. This was a smart move since almost everything of the original has been replaced whole cloth or abandoned entirely.

The first chorus gets dubbed out until the 2:00 mark, when hints of acid bass arrive to provide counterpoint to new, foreboding chord sequences and countermelodies brought to the mix. Later, tubular bells enter the track as a slow buildup begins at the 2:57 mark until the next verse begins. By this point, the track can be said to be in its second movement as the  extended coda becomes a series of buildups of choral vamps and ascending chords that are built slowly over the course of a minute or more. Near the 6:00 mark, a false fade occurs and stick percussion begins the final buildup before the climactic build to the cold ending on a perfectly welcome “click/click” at the 8:45 mark. You may hear the mix here:

Underpass - Oh The Gilt mix

Underpass – Oh The Gilt mix

The “Oh The Gilt” remix takes the track far from its origins without boring, offending, or ever descending into dance porn. It’s strong work and at the end of the day, it’s a fascinating alternate vision of a song that in its original form, bristles with all of the power and menace that an inspired original vision can bring to the world. The new mix tops off the energy and increases the urgency of the track at the cost of the baleful, malevolent vibe of the original. It’s intriguing and worthy for a fan like me. I’m still pinching myself that the current environment is producing remixes that I actually enjoy for the first time in a quarter century! If you like good daaaaance music, it hits the marks admirably, but at the end of the day had it been the original mix, maybe no one would be remixing it 33 years later. Such is the pull of “Underpass.”

– 30 –

* Am I the only one who noticed that the single cover that Metamatic Records used for the thumbnail on the “_unsubscribe_remake mix” on Soundcloud is my CD copy with the serial number stamp of #0156!!! Go to the Soundcloud page and click on the full size image. It is the same stamp as on my CD! The bad impression at the upper right corner of the number six confirms it. The title stamp is Photoshopped in, though.

About postpunkmonk

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2 Responses to Record Review: John Foxx – Underpass Remixes 2013 [part 2]

  1. Echorich says:

    Well Monk, everything is fair game on the interweb…0156 is now an important number – maybe a code awaiting decoding! As for these two mixes, I couldn’t agree with you more. To start, I liked the 2010 Mark Reeder remix enough, but it the Dark Long & Sinister Mix just beats the life out of the track after about 7 minutes. It makes for great footage of cars sped up going through eerily lit tunnels, but I think I might not last the whole 10:18 on a dancefloor.
    The Dave Clarke remix works better in its edit version for me. It also sounds a bit thin in places.
    The star of these remixes is certainly the Oh The Gilt Mix! I swear if feel like it’s 1980. Yes there is some very Numan & Visage like things going on in this mix and it benefits from them. The live (or live sounding) drums also give it that retro feel that is so very appealing.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – I’ve only heard the succinct radio edit of the Mark Reeder mix as on “Metatronic.” I imagine that few songs could sustain a 10+ minute remix. The “Oh The Gilt” mix goes as far as a remix should without crossing that line. You know the one I’m talking about! It’s practically a whole new song while still being “Underpass,” so what more could you ask for?

      Like

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