By Mark Parker, Second year History
‘Piano & Clarinet: Selected Works Vol. 1, Remix adds yet another intriguing experimental album to PRAH Recording’s growing portfolio.’ Mark Parker reviews.
Though not conceived as such, Selected Works Vol. 1, Remixed, released on the 17th May on PRAH Recordings, provides what is an interesting study in track manipulation: how many times can a song be reproduced into something unique? For the most part, the Group Listening Remix album is a collection of works entirely unrecognisable from the originals, ranging from strange neo-classical pop to electronic dance tracks. As is the case with any remix album, one is unlikely to enjoy every track equally, but the range of artistic styles ensures there is something for everyone.
For others, the interest may be less in the remixed tracks themselves but rather in the transition some of the works (called alternative classics by the band members) have made across the two albums. Hans-Joachim Roedelius’ ‘Wenn Der Südwind Weht’ is transformed from a trademark electronic-ambient track, to a jazz-infused Group Listening reworking, to then three entirely unique tracks on the remix album. C.A.R. appropriate the piano as the foundational track whilst manipulating the clarinet into the bass. New vocals are laid over the top of the electronic beat. Povoa’s version is more recognisable as a remix, with the original clarinet track remaining relatively unchanged. A drum track is again introduced whilst this time vocals remain absent. Roedelius’ work goes full circle as Bryce Hackford’s ambient remix closes the album.
Ambience is perhaps the most predominantly recurring feature throughout the album. Robert Stillman’s remix of ‘A Little Lost’ is perhaps the most purely ambient track. Chosen to open the 11-track album, Stillman’s remix – barring the title – is unrecognisably a remix of either the original or the neo-classic reworking. Nonetheless, the variation in artists and artistic style is such that a cohesive genre is practically unachievable. In some cases, the length of the songs (an average of around five and a half minutes) allows for a merging of styles. Thomas Ragdale’s remix of ‘Jay’ begins as an ambient track before drums are layered in to transform the song.
An album of individual experiments, production suggests widespread consumption was not the primary motivation for many of the artists. Even through a decent set of speakers, the drums can be noticeably lacking depth, and often layered tracks lose their distinctiveness played at quieter volumes. Ed Dowie’s remix provides perhaps the best track for consumption by committed Group Listening fans. Having both played at Green Man in 2018, the musical styles of Dowie and Group Listening’s members overlap significantly. It came as no surprise, then, that Dowie’s remix of ‘Julie With’ was a very listenable alt-pop track, expertly layered alongside new lyrics to produce something that is both similar to and distinct from both the Eno original and the Group Listening reworking: a standout track on a varied album.
Whilst Group Listening’s original is, expectedly, more successful as a full album, the remix album is a varied and interesting series of mini projects. For those who have spent the last year listening to Group Listening’s neo-classical success, the subsequent remix will prove intriguing as an enterprise in track manipulation, whilst for those who are less amenable to the original, a totally new reimagination of the album may provide the entry-point to Group Listening’s work that is needed. Group Listening’s original album provided the neo-classical genre with a new and wider audience, and PRAH Recordings should be commended for its continued support of experimental works, and its production of another interesting album.
Featured Image: Group Listening, Various / PRAH Records
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