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Unessential collection of remixes of Nick Cave's side project Grinderman's second album
The problem with remix albums is that by their nature they’re incoherent, stumbling and part-baked – they can’t represent a coherent artistic vision because what remixes are about is tearing up the artist’s vision and in its place creating something new and unexpected.
A remix in its natural habitat – sprayed across a crowded dance floor or crouched, flexed and ready to attack from the seldom-heard third and fourth tracks of a CD single – is designed to do a single task.
When you collect 12 of them and present them as an ‘album’, even when in these iTunes days the word has been denuded of its former majesty, you run the risk of getting at best a humdrum stroll across the artist’s own, superior, original album, and at worst a mess.
This particular remix album, ‘Grinderman 2 RMX’, edges closer to being the former than the latter. The songs, provided of course by Nick Cave’s current band Grinderman, are so strong as source material – or at least, so idiosyncratic, so unable to be anything else – that they can’t help but end up shining.
The impressive array of talent listed on the sleeve indicates the difficulty of this project: it leads off with a collaboration with Robert Fripp, although unfortunately this is one of the less interesting tracks – it’s more like an alternative studio mix of the song than a rethink.
It’s one of two takes on the original album’s ‘Heathen Child’, the other being Andrew Weatherall’s take on it, which turns it into a baggy, loose 90s-dance version. It’s charming but again not enormously interesting.
‘Worm Tamer’ again gets two goes (the original ‘Grinderman 2’ has nine tracks, and the 12 tracks of ‘RMX’ mean some duplication, although, oddly, one of the more interesting songs from the original, ‘Kitchenette’, doesn’t appear on 'RMX'). The first is by noise-ists A Place To Bury Strangers, and gives a rocky original a harder, faster, pounding rhythm, and the second, an UNKLE mix, makes it into a strange dance-rock hybrid that bounces along like a Diplo-produced rap record.
Josh Homme, formerly of Queens of the Stone Age, has a good stab at ‘Mickey Bloody Mouse’ by multilayering Cave’s vocal, but rather than carry that fun idea through to the conclusion it ends up letting the guitars and drums back in half-way through.
The most arresting song is one of the two versions of ‘When My Baby Comes’. One is by Six Toes and reimagines the original with movie strings, but the better one is by Cat’s Eyes (new project of the Horrors’ Faris Badwan and soprano and composer Rachel Zeffira). Here, some of the original instrumentation remains but the lyrics are re-voiced by Zeffira to make the threatening original something new and haunting.
The high-point of the original was ‘Palaces of Montezuma’, a classic Cave torch song, which here has been remixed by old collaborator Barry Adamson. Like the Fripp version at the top of the record, it’s more like an alternate take than an overhaul and as such it fades against its predecessor.
Three versions of ‘Evil’ finish things off, and while all are worth listening to, none of them can quite live up to the power of the recorded version, not even ‘First Evil’ which is the band’s own demo of the song.
Predictably enough, ‘Grinderman 2 RMX’ is one for the completists. There are some interesting versions here, but with only a couple of exceptions none are going to displace their originals. As remixes most of the tracks on ‘Grinderman 2 RMX’ succeed, but by being combined, catalogued and structured into a ‘remix album’ they fail to escape the swamp from which they emerged.
Super Heathen Child
Hyper Worm Tamer
Mickey Bloody Mouse
When My Baby Comes
Palaces Of Montezuma
When My Baby Comes
Have a Listen:-