Cold Cave: Life Magazine US – 12″ 
- Life Magazine (The Arthur Baker’s Not Going Back Remix)
- Life Magazine (An Optimo (Espacio) Mix)
- Life Magazine (Pantha Du Prince First Flash Remix)
- Life Magazine (Prurient Remix)
I was an immediate convert to the charms of Cold Cave upon hearing their track “The Great Pan Is Dead” from their 2011 album “Cherish The Light Years.” While that cut thrilled with the electric charge that I’d last heard in 1981 in the music of Glenn Branca, the rest of the album certainly looked to New Order as setting target to hit, and hit it, they did. In many ways, “Cherish The Light Years” was the New Order album I had been waiting 30+ years for. When I saw this Cold Cave 12″ from their previous album, sealed, in 2017, I snapped it up. Especially since I saw that Arthur Baker Himself® had remixed the first version of the A-side. Seeing how Baker had contributed to a fertile period in New Order’s career, how could this be bettered?
The Baker remix of “Life Magazine” began with a stuttering warning claxon of synths and dramatic stabs. That [way over] lasted for 2:30 before resolving into the perky synthpop banger at the heart of this song. It sported a great bass line as good as anything Hook would have come up with but the unnamed female vocalist gave it all a stronger whiff of The Other Two than that New Order itself. The vocal melodies were strong and, uh, hooky, but the over reliance on repetitive tritones made for a remix where less could have been more. As I had not heard an Arthur Baker production in almost 30 years by this point, it was only peripherally related to what I considered the classic Baker electro sound.
The Optimo Mix actually came closer to that expectation in its diverse hybrid of several eras of dance music with tightly sequenced eight’s notes redolent of Baker, but more to the point, Cabaret Voltaire in their mid-80s majesty rubbing shoulder pads with acid bass lines and the wildcard here; the squelchy analog sounding synths ripped straight from late 70s Space Disco. Quite a tasty blend and the best of the mixes here. When the classic New Order synth strings made their appearance it was like coming home. The vocal was nearly doubled with reverb but there was a lot of it here; not the dreaded Repeated Vocal Sample®.
The Pantha Du Prince First Flash Remix also revealed a Cab Volt influence to these ears. Unfortunately, it was the 90s post-Mallinder minimal techno version of the band that I had little time for. The dreaded repeated the dreaded Repeated Vocal Sample® used here was as reductive as possible with about a second of reverb [forward and backward, from the sound of things] and the expansive melody had been forced into a minor key; never a fun thing to listen to… if you’re me. It lasted an interminable 9:12 when a third of that might have been bearable.
Finally, the Prurient remix was incredibly echo laden and remote sounding; as if a club 5 miles away was playing it. Extremely loud. The volume levels to the track were mostly low but the sound was distorted any way. Just another example of this modern horror of brickwall abuse. When the volume levels spiked for the last third of the song then it fully embodied the worst sort of mastering possible in today’s audio horrorshow.
The nightmare in sound above is what the waveform of the Arthur Baker mix looks like in my wave editor. Practically a solid black rectangle. The second mix here was rather good and I think I could make a better edit of the Baker remix than the repetitive overkill we got here, but I would have to fire up the turntable and see what I could extract from the vinyl. The MP3 files given as a download with this disc were among the worst digital files of any kind I’ve ever heard. I suspect that the original 3:02 version on the “Love Comes Close” album may be what I need to hear. Perhaps from vinyl only. Damn it.
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