Various Artists: Rework_ Philip Glass Remixes
According to Wikipedia "the remix is an alternative version of a song, different from the original version. A remixer uses audio mixing to compose an alternate master recording of a song, adding or subtracting elements, or simply changing the equalization, dynamics, pitch, tempo, playing time or almost any other aspect of the various musical components."
That approach, where existing tracks can be used for the creation of something new, has been happening for some time, and the world of classical music hasn't really been that much different from any other genre of music. It is a well-known fact that composer Beethoven has based variation sets on Handel, while Brahms has used patters from Bach, not to mention the use of melodies from classical music by the pop world. All this indicates that remixers actually follow trends that have been around for centuries.
Technological developments in musical instruments and production tools have allowed great opportunities for remixers. In the '90s and '00s, remixes ranged from subtle reinterpretations of recordings to completely new and often unrecognizable versions of songs. But, more often than not, the results have been bad and the remix was more the result of a passing trend than a lasting musical statement. The typical approach has been to grab a single idea from a given song or a composition and to manipulate and reshape it in a very predictable and uniform way. Most often, those remix projects are nothing more than collections of accidently assembled remixers, without any common thread or direction. That is why there is only a handful of remix projects, like David Sylvian's Good Son Vs The Only Daughter (SamadhiSound, 2005) and Steve Reich Remixed (Nonesuch, 1999), that have actually worked as regular records. Much like all those countless label samplers and compilations, the remix album seldom extends its usefulness beyond a couple of listens.
This actually makes Rework_Philip Glass Remixes even more remarkable and delightful In what this group of remixers has managed to achieve with its reworking of composer Philip Glass' work. The record collects an illustrious cast of remixers, under the guidance of pop star Beck and produced by Hector Castillo. Glass was intrigued by the prospects of how other people would approach his compositions, and asked Beck to assemble a cast of remixers to reshape his work. This shouldn't come as surprise, as Glass has often been open to new musical experiences, collaborating with other artistsalbeit mostly from various other styles and genres than his own. Nor has Glass possessed any inhibitions about working with electronic artists from different eras. Even one-time collaborator, electronic artist Aphex Twin, has remixed Glass' own reworking of singer David Bowie's title track from Heroes (Virgin, 1977) on Heroes Symphony (Point Music, 1997), by stitching Bowie's voice to the instrumental passages. Today, Glass' work has been sampled over and over and he is seen as a guru to a plethora of artists.
The assembled lineup for this task offers no clues as to what to Expect, but Rework_Philip Glass Remixes brims and sparkles with ideas and sounds. All of the remixers have approached Glass' work with great respect and make very interesting changes and alterations to the original sound architectures. The remix of "Music in Twelve Parts, Pt 1" by remixer My Great Ghost, has totally redesigned and revamped this composition by adding loops of processed repetitive voices which build up into a section driven by a laidback pulsating beat, while the follow-up, "Rubric" transforms the urgency of the original track from the seminal Glassworks (Sony, 1983), totally reconstructing it by altering the tempo, adding bass synth, a funky keyboard riff and segments of Glass' trademark repetitive keyboard run-ons. Even Beck, the curator of this project and no stranger to remixes of his own work, has approached this task by building the mega-mix "NYC: 73-78," a masterpiece consisting of 20 Glass compositions brought together in a very brave and consistent manner.
On the other hand, Cornelius only reprises the famous "Opening from Glassworks," but his version is taken at a slightly slower tempo and temperament.
What makes this record so interesting and beautiful is the narrative that runs through it, the entire recording sounding like one continuous mix of some of the most varied and moving music. Rework_Philip Glass Mixes stands as a recording in its own right and merits repeated close listening. There is an elegant and careful reimagining and reworking in evidence, with the result being very accessible and inviting.
Track Listing: CD1: Music in Twelve Parts, Part 1; Rubric Remix; Knee 1 Remix; Alight Spiral Ship; Warda's Whorehouse - Inside Out Version; Warda's Whorehouse; Etoile Polaire - Litter Dippe; Floe '87 Remix; Opening from Glassworks. CD2: NYC:73-78, Protest Remix; Mad Rush Organ Remix; Island Remix
Personnel: My Great Ghost; Tyondai Braxton; Nosaj Thing; Dan Deacon; Amon Tobin; Silver Alert; Memory Tapes; Cornelius; Beck; Johann Johannsson; Pantha du Prince; Peter Broderick.
Record Label: Orange Mountain Music