Claudia Brücken’s reign was finally toppled by the last person I would have thought capable of doing it two years ago. The re-emergence of Visage was something that piqued my curiosity, and not always in a good way. It had the potential for being an embarrassing farrago, but all involved have given 110% to this project and the end results seethe with vital energy of the kind I’ve not heard in ages. When I least expected it, Steve Strange and crew managed to pull off the sort of comeback that the odds seemed, quite honestly, to be stacked against.
Regular readers of this blog probably saw this one coming, since the emergence of this astonishing remix late last year is the event that triggered this recent remix thread. Album producer John Bryan took this “all guns blazing” album opener and a half, and managed to render it even more spectacular with a truly cinematic string arrangement he co-wrote with string maven Pete Whitfield. But Bryan didn’t merely bolt The Prague Philharmonic Orchestra onto the already stupendous song. The mix and performances were delightfully different from the LP cut while losing none of its strengths and power. The strength and power of this track was definitely enhanced by the new mix that saw a radically different performance entirely from guitarist Robin Simon. Once the guitar enters the mix, it becomes delightfully apparent that Bryan was using a different take from Simon.
Or maybe not. The buildup in the middle eight features such tight syncopation between Simon and the orchestra, that I am now wondering if the producer called Simon back to record a new guitar track after scoring the track for orchestra. It fits like a glove and can’t be the product of mixing random elements. The spoken word verse from Steve Strange added to the song following the middle eight is the sort of 12″ frippery that I can never get enough of. Mixes like this that push the boundaries of scope that define a song, without defiling the vibe of the song, are scarce gifts in a barren world. The album was so good, the world didn’t exactly need a better mix of my favorite song on it, but I am enriched by the fact that it happened any way!
It’s especially appreciated when one examines the span of 31 years between these four remixes of the last few days. The “Mabuse” remix dated from 1984. The “Kiss Like Ether” remix was from 1991, seven years later. “Kein Anschuß” was from 2007, a whopping sixteen years later. This latest champion remix dates a mere seven years later from that. It’s no coincidence that my favorite mix of the 2000s took place after a sixteen year span that was dead in the center of a long dry spell of remixes where there was little happening in the world of remixes to give me sustenance. The period of 1988-2006 was absolutely a time of 12″ remixes that didn’t do much for me, in spite of years of remix fandom prior to that.
The dance trends that drove the house/rave/techno bus that dominated remixing weren’t for me. In fact, during this time, scads of favorite bands that succumbed to these dance styles on 12″ lost me as a fan. If I didn’t like their single, then I pretty much stopped buying even their albums. This was true for Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, Depeche Mode, and a few other bands that I used to have huge, fat collections of. But it was some time around 2006 that I happened across remixes that were more musical than functional [i.e. dance porn] for the first time in a huge span of time.
Most of the remixes that I’ve cautiously bought in the last seven years have been surprisingly good, which I was really not used to when dealing with daaaaaance music of late. It seems like the new post-E generation have rediscovered the musical traits that I was more responsive to from earlier times. It seems as if daaaaaaance music has been reclaimed as something more musical and artistic that once again has appeal to me in a way that a whole generation of such efforts didn’t.
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