Every year there are undiscovered gems which fly under the radar without much publicity and the first such album of 2005 may well turn out to be Long-View’s Subversions.
The Manchester quartet, who caused much excitement upon the release of their debut album, Mercury, two years ago, have pulled together a collection of remixes previously only available on b-sides and white labels. The 47 minute collection, which includes mixes by such names as Elbow, Mogwai and Twisted Nerve’s Andy Votel, is being released as part of a limited edition 2CD re-issue of the Mercury album and as a stand alone vinyl release.
The band have gone through some pretty big changes since 2003, not least of which being a change in name. On the way to signing a record deal with Sony in the US it was found that another Longview, a bluegrass band from Kentucky, already existed so, to appease those nice people over the pond, a subtle change was made.
Subversions follows the release of the double a-side single Coming Down/When You Sleep in what promises to be a busy year, with that difficult second album planned to hit the shelves late in 2005.
All but one of the tracks on this latest release originate from their debut album – the one exception being In A Dream, reworked by Mogwai here, which was a single last summer. However, the difference from the guitar-led sound of the original Mercury tunes is staggering – from being an indie favourite the transformation is very much to chill-out.
The album starts with Further, one of the hit singles from the original album, which is offered up three times in total, twice by producer Jack Knife Lee. This first version begins with a dance beat which develops into a New Order-esq Blue Monday feel. Electronica and guitars are also to the fore before singer Rob McVey’s droning voice completes a very interesting mix.
German electro-synth meister Ulrich Schnauss weighs in with his take on Can’t Explain and Will You Wait Here. The former is transformed by shimmering soft guitars and piano, with an atmospheric feel to this anthemic number giving it a dream-like quality, perfectly complementing McVey’s heartfelt vocal.
Meanwhile, Schnauss’ re-working of Will You Wait Here is one of the real highlights of the collection. From the haunting vocals and atmospherics at the start it builds all the way through to an emotive peak with some spacey keyboard sounds and a killer chorus. Of all the remixes on the album, this is the closest to an original, yet the sound is very fresh.
Scottish funsters Mogwai dish up their instantly recognisable sound on In A Dream, drowning it in beeping noises, brooding piano, fuzz guitar and electronic voices. While Long-View’s fellow Mancunians, Elbow go completely the other way, with an up-tempo dance version of Further which is very not ‘them’. Despite this, the striking similarities between the voices of McVey and Guy Garvey, both with that haunting, on the edge of a breakdown quality, do make you think twice as to who might be singing on this track. Let me assure those in any doubt it is McVey.
Without a doubt the most striking remix is that of Andy Votel. The boss of the label which brought as Badly Drawn Boy throws everything into the bowl to make the most pungent punch since Bez was given the key to the Happy Mondays tour drinks cabinet.
Votel gives I Would a retro feel, unleashing all kinds of weird mayhem with manic guitars, stabbing organ, muffled and distorted vocals and a drum sound reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Saucerful of Secrets. The most amazing thing is that somehow it works.
It is almost certain that nothing in the Long-View catalogue will ever sound remotely close to this album again. Snap it up now while you can.