End to End is our track-by-track take on non-album and compilation releases, in which we try to give thumbnail first impressions of each song and point to particular numbers for cherry-picking via the consumer’s online retailer of choice. Today it’s a remix single from a rapidly evolving artist we’ve been tracking for a minute now.
Basic Unit Productions
Last year’s Tension Strategies sat well with us: NYC artist Joey Blush’s exploration of unpredictable analogue soundscapes slaved to some pretty solid tunesmithing. A little more than a year later and he’s already got a whole other album ready to go, with a pre-release single to boot. This particular line-up of artists had us pausing to take note before we even started listening…
Joey Blush hasn’t ever been shy about using the chaotic possibilities of his various modular and analogue set-ups into his music, but the intro to this track really drives the point home. The glitched out, staticky stop-start rhythm of the song’s first minute or so builds out the tension to a point where the melodic chorus drop feels like a big release, climaxing with a plunge deep back into more chaotic sonic territory. This is a tactic we’ve heard Blush Response use before, but not to this degree or this wild an effect. Definitely curious what this means for the band’s evolution over the last year.
A mite less extreme than the opener, there’s a bit of classic EBM in the various lead sequences on this one. The whole song feels like it’s just barely being held together, like the whole structure of the track is under pressure and threatening to burst. Even the heavily distorted sections that emerge halfway through feel tamed and set to a purpose. Kinda different, but lots of upside.
A neat little instrumental with lots of subtle interplay between deep kicks, glitchy cymbals and a punchy flute stab. The roiling bass and thick leads that pop up throughout sound cool, but I kind of like it best when it’s working a simple collection of sounds in different configurations.
A bit more of a droney IDM piece, with a pleasant amount of detail to admire. This one is all texture, the snare hits and groaning synth pads all laid out to showcase subtle shifts in tone and timbre. A nice exercise in sound design from an artist who obviously spends a lot of time on that aspect of his music.
“The Drift (BITES Remix)”
3 Teeth’s Xavier Swafford goes a pretty hard electro-industrial angle on his mix, with some FLA-esque vocal processing and lots of stereo effects. It’s weird, if you played this for me next to the first version I might have guessed that this more focused mix was the original, which I guess speaks to both approaches to the song. I dig it.
“The Drift (∆AIMON Remix)”
This starts with a lot of ∆AIMON’s usualy remix tropes, all pianos and slowed kick snare patterns before bursting out into a full on digital string explosion. The Showers’ always comes correct on these singles and this is no different, ridiculous workrate married to full-bodied arrangements. Good stuff.
“The Drift (Blac Kolor Re-Drift)”
Blac Kolor is a dark techno guy, and this would certainly seem to fit that designation in terms of sound. It actually reminds me a little of the long trancey weirdness the Coil guys or Meat Beat Manifesto would bring to their NIN mixes back in the day, lots of chopped up vocal parts and slippery hi-hat patterns all slaved to an uncompromising 4/4 kick. Not shabby.
“The Drift (Bombardier Remix)”
Slowed to a crawl and filled out with broken mechanical noise, this Bombardier mix explores the noisy side of the song in a wholly different way. There are some cool passages and lots of notable bits of sonic debris here, and although it doesn’t totally come together as a track in its own right, it has enough flavour to justify its inclusion here.
“The Drift (Textbeak Remix)”
Kind of a straightforward take by the internet’s Mike Textbeak. Feels very static in the opening moments before breaking down to various components midway through, then reassembling into a new configuration. Nothing too special really.
“The Drift (SquareSyntax Remix)”
This actually comes across like the original with the bass jacked and some of the drum sounds replaced by nimbler versions. It’s pretty minimal, but I like the interplay of the elements SquareSyntax hold over, not a reinvention so much as a recontextualization that changes the feel of the song.
“The Drift (M¥rrĦ Ka Ba Remix)”
Like a creepy carnival ride soundtrack with boom bap drums behind it, this might be the most extreme retake on the song here. I’m a sucker for a head nodding beat, although the brief length suggests to me that M¥rrĦ Ka Ba might not have had too many more ideas for this one and hit eject once their point was made.
The Takeaway: For three bucks for the whole shebang on Bandcamp? I’d say go for it. The four originals are all solid, and the remixers are bring enough variety to “The Drift” that it doesn’t feel like you’re listening to the same song over and over. If you were silly enough to want to just snag one song, I might suggest the title track or the BITES remix, but c’mon, in for a penny, in for a pound here guys. This is solid stuff, and I’m keen to hear what it signal for the new LP Desire Machines.
You can order The Drift on Bandcamp now, with the digital release set for April 18th.