With the coming of the summer comes the next wave of Ibiza-bound dance floor stompers. One such work comes from the revered DFA records, mixed by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, with nine already popular dance pieces given a comprehensive reworking. The techniques used to stamp the DFA mark, however, may not exactly set you diving for your dance shoes.
Track one, Le Tigre‘s Deception, for example, stands out solely through its whiney, tantrum-like vocals. Beneath this is a backing beat that never varies tempo or feel. Despite a wealth of instrumental variation, including a ukulele, there is not much to excite the senses.
This theme carries on into the ten-minute long version of Blues Explosion‘s Mars Arizona: an exciting, crescendo build up of swirling effects that soon descends into monotony. Hugely irritating vocals repeatedly urge; “C’mon!” with no real musical intensity to match this plea. Dissonant guitars intersperse, and at these points the track is kicked into life, but over the course of 10 minutes these moments are few and far between. We are assured that; “You’re not gonna like this at first,” and perhaps Murphy’s pitch-bending experimentation will start to gain appeal. I wouldn’t fancy the chances, though.
A reworking of The Boxer is far more interesting. A wealth of percussive techniques keeps things fresh and interesting – although, at 10 minutes, this again becomes a stretch. Vocal use is less dominant here, which gives Murphy a chance to demonstrate a clear talent for sculpting dynamic synth-led beats.
The version of Soulwax‘s Another Excuse is another that pulses with creativity, and features a particularly catchy hook – a must for any dance anthem. Murphy then turns Dance To The Underground into what sounds like a soundtrack-reject for Super Mario, before a digitally disjointed take of Fischerspooner‘s Emerge. The problem is, at this point you feel like you have been listening for an age and have still heard relatively little to galvanise emotion.
A 12-minute version of Gorillaz‘s recent hit Dare follows, with the first four minutes almost identical to the original, with the exception of a slightly altered bass line and a cow bell. The rest of the track shows some real quality; sheer volume and depth of musicianship rises to an overwhelming point before dying away, and somehow taking another 3 minutes to end. Again, the album falls foul of keeping its listener engaged, a few good ideas emerge, but are then repeated endlessly to the point of sheer boredom.
The DFA Remixes end with an innovative remake of Breakdown by the excellent Hot Chip. Strong percussion and minimal synth intervention helps to emphasise the strong points of an excellent track. However, even this does not diminish the sense that your last 75 minutes could have been better spent. Chapter two? If you must.