The reaction to a remix album in 2014 probably ranges somewhere from “How quaint!” to chirping crickets. They seem, in large part, a relic of the 1990s electronica boom, a time when CDs were plentiful and well-funded major labels were trying to figure out how exactly to best peddle funky bleeps and bloops to a wider record-buying public. Remixes are still used as a way to boost the visibility of a young artist via a more famous remixer, or to expand a track’s reach by dressing it up in a different genre, but it’s more common these days to offer the material as a carrot for purchasing from a particular vendor or as a freebie to drum up interest. Underground labels, as always, seem content to issue mixes on vinyl, for DJs and collectors. So the market isn’t exactly saturated, which is fine: it was always a slightly dicey proposition to bundle together re-imaginings by a disparate group of artists.
Livity Sound is a small, Bristol-based label/collective whose curious meld of techno, dub, and bass music proved popular with the type of progressive, underground-leaning DJs. They were notable for their sound, but also for the insular nature with which is was presented: tribal markings (since abandoned), monochrome labels, and singles that featured different combinations of the three members (Peverelist, Kowton, Asusu) but no outsiders. Watching them conjure the sound live revealed a sense of ritual.
With just nine (original) releases to their name—and none since they collected them on last year’s excellent eponymous album—they might seem an unlikely mark for an album of Sumixes. But Livity’s sound represents something of an ideal for remixers: potent and distinct enough to survive mangling but with plenty of cavities and null spaces to explore. The sound, so deep-seated in the trio, would best be expanded by a group of peers and sympathizers.
The list of remixers is heavy on European veterans, and while the names aren’t big—UK techno don Surgeon represents the loudest choice—they’re an imaginative group that share Livity’s propensity for manically controlled aggression and tense rhythms. The remixers favor tweaks and refurbishments to outright deconstruction, so Livity Sound Remixes is still largely a hard charging collection of throbbing bass and ratcheting snares, albeit a collection that feels slightly less isolated as the familiar clang of techno and curves of house are sprinkled over the tracks like seasoning.
There are some striking updates. Tessela takes the nimble breakbeat of Pev’s “Aztec Chant” and plates it in chrome; Ghost-202 (Ron Morelli and Svengalighost) pervert “Livity”‘s bassline into a snarling, distorted mess. Surgeon takes the halting rhythm of “Raw Code” and sets it like a broken bone, offering rigidity and support. Berlin’s Nick Höppner turns in one of the best mixes, unearthing softness and patience in the quicksilver house of Asusu’s “Sister”. A Made Up Sound offer two remixes of Asusu’s “Velez”, carefully pouring spacey synth noise into its crevices like someone preparing a sheet of cupcakes.
There are times when austerity gets the better of Livity’s sound, like when MM/KM (Mix Mup and Kassem Mosse) remove titular, wiggling synth melody, one of Livity’s rare playful moments, from Kowton’s “More Games”. And while the lack of total teardowns by the remixers speaks to the resiliency of the original tracks, Livity Sound Remixes is lacking in true curveballs (something that was less apparent when these tracks were released separately over the course of the year). Still, Livity Sound Remixes serves as a welcome addendum to some of the most vital club music of recent years and a roadmap for placing this flinty, penetrating music into a broader context.
from Album Reviews – Pitchfork http://ift.tt/1uyRUR2