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Big Black Delta

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Jonathan Bates, aka Big Black Delta, made me entirely rethink what pop music could be last year with the release of his incredible debut, BBDLP1. He took the standard pop music formula and twisted it so far on its head that I'm pretty sure it exited from its own ass, and I mean that as a true compliment. It was one of the most surprising, shocking, and satisfying albums of the year, and at the heart of the album was a little ditty, the in no way suspiciously titled song “IFUCKINGLOVEYOU”. Given the (comparatively) accessible nature of the song and its otherworldly and catchy melody, it was only a matter of time before someone got the bright idea to remix it. Fast forward a few months later to July 2012 and the song has met its inevitable fate: it finally saw release as a single and remix compilation.

If you haven't heard the song before, “IFUCKINGLOVEYOU” is an intense five-minute sendup of pop music norms in general. The beats are unusually heavy, the vocals phase in and out of comprehension and intensity, the static 4/4 pulse is driven by industrial-influenced keyboards and soaring filtered backing vocals, and the entire explosion of music boldly ends on a full minute-long drone. Especially on that last count, you just don't hear daring compositional decisions like that in pop music, ever. It was easily one of the best songs of 2011 and a perfect example of how an artist can take something as staid as pop music and, with a little bit of creativity and possibly a fetish for electronica, give it some well-deserved new life.

Now here's the puzzling part: for an artist that prides himself on doing things purposefully wrong and creating original twists on old ideas, you'd think that any remixes of his work would follow suit. Disappointingly, that turns out not to be the case; the remixes on this album are surprisingly standard and predictable fare. You have the vaguely house inspired remix, the token dubstep remix, the “hey look, I know how to program drums” remix...you know, the same stuff you hear on every dime-a-dozen remix album. While they are trying their best, none of the remix artists here truly succeed in bringing any of the intensity and creativity that BBΔ brought to the table in the first place, and as a result, their remixes just sound like pale knock-offs of the original rather than interesting interpretations.

Sei A's remix is the biggest offender. All he does is lift the interesting parts of the original song and throw them over a drum loop that frankly sounds very out of place. Even though he does have a few interesting ideas (his reimagining of the vocal phrasings is particularly creative), they get lost in a sea of boring, turgid noise, and what merit they may have had becomes all but meaningless. The heavy syncopation Throwing Snow's remix is certainly an admirable decision; he throws you right into the song without a clear sense of time, and you can tell that the remix is trying to use that to highlight the astounding absurdities of the original piece. The key issue with it is that there are so many superfluous things added into the mix that it's almost impossible to pick out the things of interest. So many things are going on at once that the entire song comes off as too busy to be palatable.

Don't even get me started on the N-Type & Surge remix—if half-assed dubstep wasn't overplayed already, this is track is certainly the final nail in the coffin. It reeks of lazy arrangement and little to no understanding of the importance of the source material. And I'm not even certain what the track “Leonardmcgeonardvsdrunkencalculator” is even supposed to be, let alone if it's even related to the title track at all. It's an interesting little glitch-filled electronic piece, which is actually kind of cool, but I honestly couldn't tell you if it was another funky remix or just a random b-side. It's inclusion is confusing, to say the least.

The remix from electronic artist Jimmy Edgar is the closet this album gets to an interpretation that actually does the original song justice. The vaguely jazzy melodies that seem to float around resolution actually accentuate the heightened tension between melody and aggression of the original song very creatively, making for a take on the original that is actually engaging. If there is any one song on this album that is worthy of the original, this one has to be it.

Still, the remixes included on this album are incredibly underwhelming overall, and it certainly doesn't help that they tend to blend together after a while. It sort of leaves a sour taste in your mouth—is this the best that they could really do? But here's the kicker: legitimately amazing versions of this song do exist. What about that incredible Wretched World cover by experimental metal artist Surachai? Not only is it faithful to the original by dutifully messing with everything that made us comfortable and complacent in the first place, but it also treats the original song with respect, rather than just a template to throw a drum machine over. I'm pretty sure its inclusion alone would make this album worth the asking price.

I don't mean to sound bitter, because I really did get some enjoyment listening to this collection of remixes. It just frustrates me that this album could've been so much more, especially considering the man being remixed in the first place. It's not a bad listen, but you're probably better off picking and choosing one or two remixes you may enjoy rather than grabbing the whole collection. Oh, and for fuck's sake, if you haven't heard the title track yet, do yourself a favour and go listen to it first.

4.5 / 10Sarah
See also
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4.5 / 10

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