Bloc Party - Intimacy Remixed (Universal)

11 Jun 2009

"the soundtrack to a thousand profile clicks, gestating in the acid of dissolved ecstasy, rather than kicking the pit just to see how it feels..."; release - '09

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It's impossible to judge what makes a successful remix album. Not as dreaded as the second, perhaps, but maybe harder to get right? The fingers that fiddle with the original imprint a combination of those experienced, zeitgeist induced and ingenious enough to distort treasured into new forms. Those new forms original enough to be considered worthy to the predecessor's, and correlated with x amount of others into an album that not only feels cohesive but complete. Tricky, then.

Bloc Party's last contribution came in the repackaged Silent Alarm, which at the time seemed fairly reactionary: to the new digital age and its abundant product, and to the shackles of Brit Pop's servitude. Kele and co. wanted to mess with the rules. Somehow, now, that doesn't ring as true.

It's got the names - Mogwai's 'Biko' rolls and dips around a headlong surge of electronica, but muddles the original's fragile purity amid a chug of synth. Armand Van Helden might have swallowed the charts with 'Bonkers' recently, but here he regurgitates 'Signs' into an unwieldy shriek and unfettered bluster. Now my feet become weary. Herve's cut and waste of 'Mercury' piques, drops, builds and destroys in all the right places - a chorale pay-off, pause, boom. Yet it's the soundtrack to a thousand profile clicks, gestating in the acid of dissolved ecstasy, rather than kicking the pit just to see how it feels. When Bloc Party's releases always challenged the way in which we thought about our music, maybe this release signals, if not an abrupt stop, perhaps a slow descent into banality. After all this time, this doesn't feel, dare I say it? Relevant.

There's still times; quick snapshots of lucid awareness where the pulse races and nerves flicker. In the quickly drawn breath of 'Halo,' We Have Band's black clad be-gloved fingers transfigure probably the only 'proper' guitar track into a maelstrom of euphoric percussion, a modulating synth in the background adding almost the perfect high to Bloc Party's already large canon of intoxicated rapture songs. Banjo or Freakout's 'Ion Square' is a sparsely placed fusion of swirling, incandescent guitars and EE Cumming's word's: "I carry your heart with me/ I carry it in my heart." Billowing through a lazily hung star cloth of blinking beats and looping string - Kele's voice lowered into an almost incomprehensible honesty.

Perhaps intimacy is the word upon which to dwell. It was abundant in the rawness of youth, the almost vulgar exuberance of 'Little Thoughts' or 'The Answer,' and coarsed through Silent Alarm's textured dreams. It remained steely in A Weekend In The City. Though resided in the gaps, the unspoken. That release was the bridge; a divide from the guitar driven snarl of Silent Alarm to the beat induced euphoria of Intimacy, but was left untouched. Intimacy tried to push the boundaries further, and in some ways I'd consider it more successful if I hadn't then heard this. Intimacy Remixed doesn't evoke the same feeling - Bloc Party's words lost in translation, connection lost.

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