KMFDM – [Album]

Monday, 15 March 2010

Without meaning to sound simple, I must humbly ask, “Why do remix albums bear a single artist's name?” True, the work contained on any such record began life as the work of a single creative body, but that's almost always where their involvement ends. A remix album is defined as one artist's work being passed through the sensibilities of several others which, in execution, leaves the impression of the original auteur, but little more.

The work ceases to be the intended product of its creator, so why continue to refer to it as such?

This question of the creative drive has long been the quandary of remix releases, but the question should certainly be re-iterated when one listens to Krieg. The material contained on this disc began life as a portion of the track list on KMFDM's fantastic album Blitz – that much is true – but this new take on those songs bears little if any resemblance to the originals.

Krieg takes every last ounce of industrial metallic hardware out of each song and replaces it all with plastic parts which, as any auto worker can tell you, makes the product much lighter  but also more prone to breakage – a line of thought which is also very much in keeping with this record. The best, most accurate way to qualify these results is that Krieg is “KMFDM – sanitized for your protection” and the twelve tracks submitted do not hold together as a cohesive release. Rather, it's more like a stack of single bound together as each producer simply overlays their own sensibilities over top of the band's which only occasionally works but, even when it does, listeners are forced to forget they're listening to an album, and imagine that each track is a single. For example, Combichrist's take on “Bait & Switch” isn't a bad, amped-up impression of the gothic club band KMFDM has always been, but Prong's Sacred Cow Mix of the same song is better from a purist's standpoint because it ignores any garish synth inclusions and shoots for a decent “headphone mix” which does suit the song better. Conversely, “Never Say Never” gets pulled six ways to Sunday as Ivan de Prume, Komar Kommando and Dave “Rave” Ogilvie each take a shot at the song on three separate occasions, each focusing on different aspects of the song. Again, the results are dodgy; de Prume focuses on a more metallic, industrial framework for “Never Say Never,” while close listening reveals that Kommando is interested in trying to turn KMFDM into K's Choice – complete with breathless sighing. The final word on the song is Oglivie's, but he takes a Top 40 approach to – it thus slapping the band in the face while simultaneously recasting the band as an entity ideal for sipping Starbucks to.

Are any of these images dubious? They most certainly will be for some listeners, but not more so than Andy Selway's mix of “Strut,” which could play easily as the static music in some high-fashion knock-off shop like Le Chateau or Hot Topic.

In each and every case, the single greatest problem with the tracks compiled on Krieg is the fact that KMFDM's personality has been either completely removed from a given song, or wildly mutated. There are moments when it works in the right hands (tweaker's Cyrillic Mix of “Davai” is excellent, as is Vile Evils' take on “Bitches”), but there are more than a few instances here where the producer has injected too much of himself at the expense of his subject. Not to overstate the point, but that's problematic.



Krieg will be released on April 27, 2010 by Metropolis/KMFDM Records. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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