Blackstrobe - A Remix Selection (Playlouder)
13 Dec 2006
ahead of releasing their first widely available original work next year, blackstrobe compile their recent remixes to form a hypnotising piece of dark, synth based electronica; release - '06
Remix albums. Well, apart from the sound being as neat as you'd expect, what else have they to offer? It's often with scepticism such as this that records like this one are treated. And like many, that was my first reaction to flipping it over and looking at the track listing. The highest profile band on here, Bloc Party, already have their own remix album out. The other most commonly recognisable acts are Depeche Mode and Rammstein. And here, one begins to think - oh. It's one of those is it? Sure, it's not like I've got anything particularly against any of those bands, though Rammstein are a funny bunch aren't they eh? Huh! Funny, a giant fake penis on stage. One for the ladies.
Though Depeche Mode might be the only one of the ilk you'll instantly recognise, regardless of the bands they choose to remix it seems Blackstrobe were really going for a feel of dark eighties synth with this 'Remix Selection'. What they do well is select from obscurity and tweak it all to an extent that makes it feel enough like an original album to warrant its existence.
You hear people spraying the words electro this-and-that in all directions these days, but this album seems to deftly reunite the two most common strands, the abstract dance electro sounding like EDMX or Cylob, and the more pop rock style such as that of Soulwax, or Clor (R.I.P.). This album is essentially a fundamentalist bible of electro for our times, the main ingredient being the hardware - the drum machines and vintage synths. You may think that the sounds obtained by this crusty old technology has been made obsolete by laptop development, but just look at the evidence - Aphex Twin, probably the most musically innovative laptop user to date, released his last major work 'Analord' on a dozen or so pieces of - yep - vinyl. Hearing him return to his massive collection of vintage analogue synths, not forgetting that Squarepusher's now at it as well, all adds up to the evidence we needed to prove that this very site's editor was an ill informed (and probably drunk) arse to ever suggest to me that Kraftwerk sounded a little dated. Tut tut tut.
For those of you who are sceptical of electro and think it has something to do with the Klaxons, rest assured that this is not your fault. It's down to a certain publication who we all continue to take too much notice of. Whether the Klaxons are any good or not (and they are), they've got nothing to do with this charming little disc. Yes, it's a remix album and no, I doubt I'll continue to listen to it with particularly intense levels of concentration for the rest of my life. But this highly enjoyable selection of dark neo-eighties electro certainly whets the appetite for when Blackstrobe start ploughing their own furrow next year.