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LCD Sound System: "45'33 Remixes"

img  Tobias

Looking back, there was never any real controversy surrounding LCD Soundsystem's „45:33“. The question of whether or not it made illegal use of Manuel Göttsching's design for his classic „E2-E4“, which had the German pioneer upset, has  by now all but subsided, but it was never that fruitful to begin with: Defenders of  the Soundsystem's James Murphy will, of course, point out that his chess board was actually rotated compared to Göttsching's, qualifying the layout as a reworking and a quote. To others, meanwhile, there will forever be a slightly dissatisfying aftertaste to what was supposed to be a personal homage. But despite these visual distractions, the music was never in much doubt. From his life-long obsession with the pulsating physical groove of Krautrock and the determination of making it his own, Murphy had created a piece that was as much a tribute as it was functional and as much fun as it was ambitious.

The duality of his approach remains intact with the release of the „45:33 Remixes“. One can, on the one hand, simply see these versions as the kind of club-oriented re-interpretations typical of the Electronica scene. On the other, the move again points to the legacy of „E2-E4“, which mainly rose from being an insider cult record to the status of visionary pre-Techno masterpiece on the strength of sample-heavy dance hit „Sueno Latino“. The latter thought seems to be prevailing here: The inclusion of a mere seven producers points towards a strict focus on quality and everyone involved was given a lot of freedom in developing these tracks not just into bite-sized edits but veritable new compositions. Piecing together all contributions into a coherent statement was given utmost priority and the necessary time – certainly no matter of course these days.

Superficially, for those who appreciated „45:33“ because of its musical dare, there is a lot to be disappointed about with regards to the remixes. On forums, mock-suggestions of a „71:75“ remix were being floated, but taking dance music to seemingly surreal lengths is by no means an Avantgarde thing any more. With most of these tracks clocking in at a moderate seven to nine minutes, everything is nicely within the realms of comfortable digestibility. Not all too many of the artists here have used the opportunity to uncover a previously hidden characteristic of the original either. Theo Parrish and Pilooski are the odd exception on the collection: The former's „Space Cadet Remix“ preserves the Funk-flavour of the work, occasionally counterpointing it by stumbling and stuttering polyrhythms, and clothes the soulful brass and backing vocals in a hauntingly minimal arrangement pierced by garish Synth stabs, jazzy Piano solos and ghostly dark background textures. Pilooski's treatment funnels the LCD Soundsystem through an 80s electro filter, with a vocoded „Do you except your fate“-vocal line being repeated like a hypnotising mantra.

It takes a little while to understand what Murphy has accomplished here and why, despite the obviously clearly distinguishable stylistic signatures of the participants, „45:33 Remixes“ actually does not sound like just another random compilation after all. As if guided by the unfaltering hand of a surgeon, each remix cuts through a different aspect of the original like a sharp-edged knife: The „Runaway Remix“ (a dub, essentially) and the Riley Renhold-Remix focus on the trance-like, nocturnal qualities of the music. Prince Language beams the piece into irresistibly contagious and sweetly melodic disco-heaven, while Padded Cell emphasises Murphy's natural swing, resurrecting it as a latinhouse cut. Prins Thomas, meanwhile, emulates „45:33“'s ebb and flow: Grounded by a stoic forward pulse, his track slowly takes on board all of Murphy's elements, continually shaking and stirring them and making highly effective use of stop-and-go motion to create a powerful vortex of shimmering sound and rotating sweetness.

All of this turns the album into more than just a nice diversion from the fact that the new LCD Soundsystem record is still a little off. Thanks to clever selection and sequencing, „45:33“ has turned out an ambitious work which will make you want to go back to the original and listen more closely just as much as an entertaining soundtrack to taking a hike in the last rays of Summer. If there are neither controversies about its design not the music this time around, then that's by no means a bad sign with regards to the qualities of this collection.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: LCD Soundsystem
Homepage: Parlophone Records

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