Grinderman – [Album]

Friday, 20 April 2012

The problem with remix albums is that, for all the promise and star power they usually have, they very, very regularly come up short because they're unable to establish a consistent vibe or sensation for listeners. It's ironic, of course, because all of the songs on such albums began life as the work of one artist, but all the fingers which touch a remix album diffuse, obscure or otherwise sully the point. Such are exactly the sorts of problems which manifest again on Grinderman 2 RMX; on this album's twelve tracks, a cast of eleven different artists and/or producers take turns either robbing the songs of all their personality, or diffusing them to the point where they're unrecognizable.

Now, such a sound might be just what some listeners are looking for – some listeners might get excited at the prospect of hearing how a star like Josh Homme reinterpret another band's work – I'm just not one of those listeners. I think that remix albums are often crass and very corporate endeavors perpetrated by record labels in order to re-stimulate an artist's songbook and help develop the career of a producer and/or DJ; as musicians go, the most impressionistic artists to touch an aural canvas. That isn't to say that I don't think DJs are musicians in their own right and producers don't play an integral role in the creative process for many artists, I just don't think that the staggering number of such artists working deserve as much attention as they get. I'm a sucker for a songwriter; not so much for a song-manipulator.

All that said, to its credit, Grinderman 2 RMX does start strongly enough with guitar guru Robert Flipp taking a minute to sit in with Nick Cave and his merry band of misanthropes and math up “Heathen Child” into a monster “Super Heathen Child.” There, the newly re-imagined, spacey dynamics of this new version of the song leave enough room for a listener's imagination to play, and the darkness of Grinderman mixes well with Fripp's atmospherics. The result is the perfect sonic solution to the old tag line, “In space, no one can hear you scream” and really does leave listeners wanting more – it's just a shame that, for as many tracks as there are on Grinderman 2 RMX, there isn't a whole lot “more” to have.

The success of “Super Heathen Child” is a good start but, unfortunately, many of the other producers don't fare as well. The re-imaginings offered up by Nick Zimmer, Josh Homme, A Place To Bury Strangers and Andrew Weatherall all leave a shocking amount to be desired as none really builds a sustainable vibe. In fact, none of them really seem to have a plan in regards to what they want to present; everything just seems to languish and turn into a formless puddle of goo pretty quickly. Other than Fripp's work, the only other work of note on RMX is UNKLE's “Hyper Worm Tamer” (and maybe maybe Barry Adamson's take on “Palaces Of Montezuma”) but even those don't really hold up well because, let's be honest, three remixes does not a full-length album sustain – that's enough for a good single, but that's about it.

So what's one to do with this release? Well, listeners could buy it and program their CD players or they could just grab the few good songs from iTunes and leave the rest for completists.



Grinderman 2 RMX
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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