¡Mamacita! Last night I made my way home, pausing to get the mail in the expansive mailbox, when I saw a thin, flat package that I was not expecting. I saw it had been sent with tracking from the UK, courtesy of Duncan Watson, who comments here at PPM. We have a history at the old OMD official forum, where we were the last two standing once that got mothballed several years back and eventually stopped working this year. He’s been a presence in the comments here for the last four years or so, but this was clearly a big favor which will net him some karma points going forward! Since he sent me not only the Ultravox “Vienna” issue #69 of Electronic Sound [which sold out in a day or two], but the bundled copy with the clear vinyl 7″ of “Herr X” b/w “Alles Klar” in their new 2020 Steven Wilson 2.0 mixes that sold out in hours. Actually, by the time I looked at my device’s email that morning, four hours later after it had been received [hey … I can get busy!], all magazine/record bundles were sold out. Until yesterday evening, I had simply given up all notions of having this bundle of joy, so hats off to Duncan for generously providing. So let’s get down to it, then!
Ultravox: Herr X – UK – Clear 7″ 
- Herr X [Steven Wilson 20 2020 mix]
- Alles Klar [Steven Wilson 2.0 2020 mix]
These are the second Wilson 2.0 mixes to reach our ears [on clear vinyl, no less] this summer, with the “Sleepwalk” 12″ of RSD drop-1 being the first. This second release follows closely with the attack mode on the first single. In each case, the more well known A-side was given a modest remix with changes to the EQ and the recording fell in line with what I’m perceiving as Steven Wilson’s penchant for a drier mix. Though the German version of the track was a 12″ B-side of “Vienna,” it was a variation on a familiar album track [“Mr. X”] that everyone with a copy of the “Vienna” album [and that’s a lot of people] know like the back of their hand by now. So any differences were subtle.
Not so much on “Alles Klar,” the B-side to “All Stood Still.” This time there seemed to be more reverb on the sequencer oscillating in the song’s intro. And new elements that were either mixed down to subliminal levels or ignored on the master tape completely were now in place on the record to surprise our ears. Windswept synths with Leslie cabinet effects were now adding new atmospheres to the mix, and along with them, heavy sighs from Warren Cann to compete with his rhythmic breathing hook were now evident.
The EQ was weighted towards a sharper, more trebly sound and the biggest change of all [you can’t miss it…] was the removal of the song’s distinctive foghorn deep bass hook of “all’s clear,” from whence the song’s title came from the middle of the song onward. This was disappointing since it was the element of the original that I was always anticipating on each listen to the original mix for 40 years. I find it hard to believe that its removal was considered for a minute, much less acted upon. With the overall shift of EQ to the higher frequencies, I can only surmise that Steven Wilson really hates low end. At the end of the track, as with “Waiting,” Wilson crafted a dramatically different fadeout. Bringing back the “windblown” synths and Warren Cann’s heavy, long sighs to mark the change.
The quality of the pressing was nice. Not laden with pops and noise. All of these tracks will manifest on the 40th anniversary Ultrabox of “Vienna,” which has undergone a delay and won’t be released until October 9th. I’d first heard a street date of September 25th but it’s gone out two more weeks. I suspect that the 2.0 Wilson remix of the album won’t stray too far, but the B-sides we’ve heard thus far are more radical in their reshaping. We await with interest the full package following this second taster.
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