OMG I CAN HAS UPDATEZ? (redmenace) wrote in lost_records,

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Low - owL Remix Low

shadesofautumn is turning over in her grave right now.

But fuck it. This piece of contract-padding piffle has some stunning remixes on it. The basic concept is nothing shocking -- an album of remixes of a band's work. Except that in this case, the band was Low and the album was pretty much made without their approval.

It's a recipe for disaster, and to many Low fans that what this record is -- an unmitigated failure, made all the more craven by the band's lack of involvement in the process. And it's true, it effectively ended any hope that Vernon Yard might have had of keeping Low on their label (moot point, since Vernon Yard effectively ceased to exist shortly after this CD came out).

Okay, politics aside: how do the mixes stack up?

Fairly well, actually. Some, like the 1991 Party Mixes of "Over the Ocean," are whimsical. These mixes find the band dressed up with sampled horns, goofy keyboard noises, and a moderately dancey beat. Far more successful is Jimmy Sommerville's remix of the classic "words" which adds a high-energy synth and drum track based on the original song's melody, slowing down only when he decides to let a line from the chorus ("And I can't hear them") close the song to fade. It's like Low meets gay disco, and it works amazingly well.

There are sveral misses: DJ Vadim's remix of "Laugh" or Neotropic's "Anon (spore)," are interesting if ultimately unsuccessful deconstructions. Or the two other Neotropic mixes (another of "Anon" and one of "Do You Know How to Waltz?"), which are so remixed to almost lose any relation to the original songs -- good, pretty, but ultimately unfulfilling.

But it's the Porter Nicks remix of "Down" that steals the show. Taking what was already a long, droning song on 1994's "I Could Live in Hope" and stretching it to nearly 14 minutes in length, this remix does what a good remix should do: it extends the song in new ways. "I guess your secret's out" is the vocal that's looped for most of the song's length, to hypnotic effect. The song retains its pacing and melancholy streak, but with a newly sinister and detached air.

owL Remix Low isn't the best remix record. But it certainly deserved better that it got. Give it a spin if you see it and you wanna hear when bad record company politics make for halfway-decent records.
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Hey, every once in a while, I do try to give owL a chance, and I find it fairly nonoffensive most of the time. I do remember the first time I heard a track from it (after making a solemn oath to myself that I would never ever listen to the record that my brother and I affectionately called "the vomitous mass") -- I had gotten dragged into the Gap by a friend of mine (this was several years pre- Low Gap Ad), and I was standing around and then I thought to myself, "hmmm, those voices sound strangely familiar." pause "hmmm, that sounds like Alan and Mimi." pause "hey, those are Alan and Mimi!" pause "but waaaaaaittttt, what are those weird techno beats???"


I find it interesting that owL came out shortly after my brother announced "There will never be a techno remix to a Low song" in a review he wrote.

All that aside, it's really an interesting project. I don't hate it. Someday, I might even admit that I own a copy. But those of you who are interested in the politics behind it and who some of the other bands Low would've liked to hear remix their songs, read Alan's interview with from August 1998. I tell you, I'm an e-packrat.