As long as there’s someone at a computer with Abelton Live or Pro Tools installed, there’s probably going to be remixes. I’ve nothing against them – hell, I admire someone who can put together an interesting and solid remix – but I do often wonder how necessary they are, especially in a collected format. As a b-side, a single remix of a track is a welcome little addition. Gather up a four of five, and you’ve got an EP going, which can also fit into to an artist’s catalogue nicely, acting as a sort of consideration point for the remixed material in question. A whole album, though? Even for the most prestigious of material, there’s a point where you just have to concede that there’s only so many times you really want to hear a track skewed, altered, fucked up, spaced out, mangled, reconsidered, replanned, and reworked.
Sometimes you don’t have to deal with the repetition, though, such as in the case of Silent Alarm Remixed, or any other album that offers a single remix for each track on the original album; that way you’re getting a fair deal. But still, how long before you start one of these albums and start pining after the original material? With the Renaissance Man Remix Project, that desire to return to the original album, as surprising at it might sound in light of my comments, never really comes.
Don’t let that trick you into thinking that Remix Project is one of those wonderful singular remix albums that stands alone – it’s not. Instead it’s a clumpy, overlong mish-mash of remixes that don’t take many great leaps from the original source material. The only reason I don’t find myself pining after the original album its tracks are sourced from (2011’s Renaissance Man Project) is simply because the original stuff was never that enthralling to begin with.
To its credit, though, a lot material on Renaissance Man Project is sparse and uneventful, acting like lightly washed canvases for other artists to paint over. The original six minutes of “Natty Jussi” skitter by lightly, like the dying embers of a dance party, and appropriately, on Remix Project, Jori Hulkkonen keeps it sounding this way, but manages to make it feel like more of a dynamic experience. Even “Trance Central” feels likes a skeleton waiting to have flesh and blood running through it, offering snippets of high and low pitched vocals proclaiming “I can feel it” along with a gaudy synth hook. Joakim’s creates an admirable mix, but the synth hook outstays it welcome before the track has hit its two minute mark, while the Teeth remix of the track runs the vocal samples into the ground, skipping them into oblivion.
That’s one of the distinctly unappealing points about both Renaissance Man Project and its remix album: the hooks are irritating, even when offered in a different light. One thing to be thankful for is that the remix album skips a couple of pointless minute or so long breaks, along with frustratingly odd tracks like “Nonsensus.” But then there’s that problem I mentioned at the beginning: repetition. At first, the remixes are inoffensive beat driven tracks to have on in the background of some club scene in a soap opera or something, but spending time with them and investing your attention rarely feel worthwhile. In its entirety, Remix Project is an overlong collection that can really drag in the centre if you paying strict attention, namely due to too many remixes of “Stalker Humanoid,” which includes one by Renaissance Man themselves (though, the Locked Groove’s “Lost in the Jungle Remix” is kind of nifty, what with the way it morphs into something sounds like it wouldn’t be unwelcome on a Matrix soundtrack). Even the selling point – Matthew Herbert’s “Little Liar Remix” of “What You Do” – isn’t anything special, again, mainly due to the tiresome hooks he’s working with. The best option is to take the few remixes that are worth revisiting on their own, namely those by Jori Hulkkonen and Locked Groove (and Paul Woodford’s wobble bass infected version of “What You Do,” should you be in the mood for that thing). Had they released these remixes as part of an EP, perhaps, then my overall take on the material might be more favourable. Instead Remix Project seems set to be added to the pile of unnecessary remix albums deemed to be forgotten by those who contributed to it and those who listened to it.