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Machines That Listened


The Delta Mirror

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One of the neatest things about being a music critic, from my perspective, is getting a ton of music that you have no context for and listening to it blindly. Sure, a lot of the random MP3s i get emailed are crap, but every once in a while something fascinating will shine through. Here is my process: i download all of the MP3s i get emailed about once every two weeks, and load them onto my phone. Then i play them on random as i work or hang out or whatever. Whenever one strikes my interest, i add to a "better files" playlist. Then, when i am done listening to the random mix of all the files, i compare the "better" playlist with the master list and delete the things that i didn't like. Then i take a further listen to the "better" files. What bubbles up to the top is what i review here.

This brings me to Machines That Listened by The Delta Mirror. In my random listening, i kept coming across these songs that sounded vaguely familiar, but not really. It wasn't until the end of that week that i realized that all of these tracks belonged together.

Machines That Listened is a remix record for an album that i have never heard, but a band i am unfamiliar with. Apparently all of these tracks are from The Delta Mirror's debut, which, from what i have seen on the internet, gathered a bit of buzz. I kind of want to hear it now. At any rate, music industry types that i have talked to have told me that these types of remix albums sell really poorly. Usually these things are just for the diehard fans, and i can see that -- heck, many of the Nine Inch Nails remix records i own (and there are lots of those!) don't make any sense unless you consider them in the context of the original record. But this, well, this works for me, even with no context to wrap around these remixes. However, since this is not a money making prospect, Lefse records is giving this away. You read that right, point your browser here and get 17 tracks worth of remixed Delta Mirror goodness for nothing more than the cost of your bandwidth. Let me go over a few of the highlights.

Someone called Blue Sky Black Death does two remixes, one of A Song About The End and the other of He Was Worse Than the Needle He Gave You. On both remixes, the percussion is a contemporary indie disco clattering, while the voice is a dispassionate and echoing drone, like the vocals on that first Interpol record. Both remixes have a vaguely 1980s feel to them, much like the work of M83. Really good stuff. I will be on the lookout for more from Blue Sky Black Death.

Going To Town as remixed by Gangi is a very different type of tune. The voice still sounds Interpolish, but it is heavily echoed and almost lost in a static haze. The percussion is scattered and deep, like a drummer playing mostly on a couple of big floor toms. The whole song seems slowed down and spread out, but it really works.

Odd Nosdam, the only remixer name i recognized going in, remixes A Song About the End. He makes the percussion a slow, chugging dark thing, coupled with layers of distorted guitar and a deep bass riff. The voice is its most Ian Curtis-like here, bypassing Interpol for the direct source. This is a good, noisy, dark mix. I like it.

Finally, i would like to mention two remixes of the morbid tune Turn the Radio On, one by City Light and one by The Shimmies. On the City Light remix, the voice is stripped out and placed in the front of the music, which is different that all the other songs here. Showcased like that, the voice is slight and warbly, which might be why The Delta Mirror layer it towards the middle of their sound. However, the music here is all crashing cymbals and chugging bass. It hits "stadium rock epic", with a huge sound and a rousing chorus. The Shimmies emphasize the guitars, bringing them out front to let them squeal away. Again, i am reminded of some epic rock band, but this has a different feel than the other mix. More Van Halen than U2, i suppose.

Now, those are just the remixes i like best, and i have not heard the actual unremixed songs. Your mileage may vary, of course, but since this is a free download, you don't really have anything to lose. Now i need to track down a copy of the record these remixes came fromů

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