Another manifestation of Nils Petter Molvaer's groundbreaking np3 albumwhich only last autumn made up the bulk of the material for the Streamer live setRemakes offers six original tracks in eleven new mixes made by mixologists ranging from bandmembers Rune Arnesen and Raymond Pellicier through established console stars like Bill Laswell and emergent ones like Matthew Herbert.
First off, before assessing the music itself, the presentation of one of AAJ's highly coveted Track Title Awards, for "Axis Of Ignorance," three words that speak volumes. The award, a heat-seeking Bronx cheer, goes jointly to Dubya and his lapdog Blair, who inspired the title.
And what of the music itself? Well, assessed as a listening rather than dancefloor experience, it's a mixed bag, some of it good, even stimulating, some of it one dimensional and dull. Amongst the less successful tracks are Side Brok's pedestrian "Frozen," with its stupefyingly lame rap, and Funkstorung's and Mark de Clive-Lowe's versions of "Axis," both unremarkable drum 'n' bass-driven usual suspects.
The best tracks, which stand up to repeated listening, are Matthew Herbert's inventive and mysterious "Hurry Slowly"; Bill Laswell's sonically extreme "Frozen," rhythmically thrilling and with a memorable, speeded-up dub bass line; Bugge Wesseltoft's and Martin Koller's nu-lyrical (you read it here first) treatments of "Little Indian," the former with tasty acoustic piano, the second with even tastier acoustic guitar; and Rune Arnesen's heavy-heavy give-the-drummer-some "Simply So."
There's a bigger philosophical debate waiting in the wings here, concerning how far you can strip jazz content out of already stripped-down nu-jazz, and replace it with more dance beats, and still maintain the tradition's defining "sound of surprise" quality, or indeed any truly arresting musical character. It will by no means be a simple debate, and Remakes will be evidence for both the defense and the prosecution. Meanwhile, the album is probably one for the NPM hard core only.
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Personnel: Nils Petter Molvaer, trumpet, loops, samples; plus various line-ups including Eivind Aarset, guitars; Raymond Pellicier, loops, electronics; Rune Arnesen, drums.