It’s become strikingly commonplace for a well-liked electronic album to earn its own remix disc later in the same year. The results are predictably spotty, usually resulting in a particular standout composition or a solid resource for a specific strain of DJs. The listenership more interested in album-oriented dance music is generally left ajar.
This is especially worth mentioning alongside Pantha Du Prince’s Black Noise, a record genuinely deserving of easy adjectives like “swirling”, “dreamy” and “voyaging.” With a work so dense, a full album remix seems like it would be almost too hard to swallow – so instead he allows everyone from Efdemin to Animal Collective to take a crack at one of five of his meatier tracks. Luckily the savvy of the selected parties transcend the predicted monotony of a project like this – and XI Versions Of Black Noise intermittently succeeds because of that.
The most common (and arguably most obvious selection) is the damp, throbbing psychedelia of Stick To My Side, which features a prominent vocal run from the perennially-reverbed Noah Lennox. You can’t really blame an album’s producer for dictating its direction. Lawrence reinvents the tune into a nocturnal, club-sedater – removing the vocal entirely in favour of warbled, amniotic synths, which naturally leave a little to be desired.
Four Tet issues the best effort, reprising the kaleidoscopic minimalism he showed off on last year’s similarly-excellent There Is Love In You – cueing up a pulsing, neural hook, letting Lennox play a role not unlike Noel Gallagher’s in The Chemical Brothers‘ chief psych-dance anthem Setting Sun. The others produce solid, if a little less distinctive efforts; Efdemin gets slight, Carsten Jost goes spooky, and Walls gets bell-heavy, end-of-record ambient.
The oddest gem here comes from fellow Germans Die Vögel, who turn the fairly unassuming percussiveness of Welt Am Draht into a genuine horn flurry – its danceability only revealing itself three minutes in, and its relation to the source material subtle at best. Instead of a misty drum-dream, we get tubas, trumpets, flutes, and a synthesized brown-note bass. The production is incredibly divergent, but it’s the sort of thing missing from these sorts of remix releases, offering a completely different taste given the pedigree of Pantha’s music and his respective remixers. But predictably, the most enjoyable work here plays it pretty safe; The Sight Below’s spin on A Nomad’s Retreat hardens the thump of the drums, the sting of the synths, and equips the timeless, and unequivocal power of the backwards string-surge – it does not destroy parameters, but that won’t change it from being the track you find yourself revisiting the most.
Just based on the title, you can tell that XI Versions Of Black Noise doesn’t aspire to be much more than it is, and the remixes cobbled together in the dense 90 minutes will keep the listener’s attention, and their favorite DJ thankful. As a record it comes off more as a collection than anything else, but the elaborate individual efforts on display deserve to be mentioned alongside the towering achievement of Black Noise.