Still here? Life gets in the way, etc. Thank you for your patience.
I'm torn. I have in my hands an album and its remix. How to choose? What to do? There's only one way to settle it. In the immortal words of Harry Hill: FIGHT!
In the blue corner, weighing in at 11 tracks, 24 minutes and 16 seconds, is an instrumental hip-hop album, Scrabble by Cresh Frazy, released in 2005.
In the red corner, weighing in at 11 tracks and a much heavier 38 minutes and 41 seconds, is Scrabble: The Unauthorized Remix by Qu.one, released earlier this year. The remix packs a punch but the original has the reputation. Let's get rrrrrrrrready to reviewwwwww. Now, listen closely: no gouging, no low blows and break when I tell you to. Come out fighting. Scores at the end of each round.
Crayola - Listening to the original chime-laden slice of trip-hop is a cool way of spending three minutes; its remix maintains an hypnotic groove that makes my head go up and down. 0-1
Krillionix - There's an 80's fretless bass in here: feel the fear. Fortunately, there's some breakbeat, piano and flute to ease the pain. Qu.one gives Cresh Frazy's beat a steroid injection. It feels chunky. Your speakers will like it. 0-1
Piano Lessons - A piano riff reminiscent of John Carpenter's Halloween gets bashed about by an acid bass and hip-hop one-two. Qu.one's bass line benefits from a much punchier sound. Again, it's 0-1 and the crowd is baying for blood.
Pleasant (Interlude) - This is a snippet of dialogue from Pleasantville, a film about the contrast between today and the 1950s. The remix is bit-crushed and delayed to within an inch of its life. 0-0. The crowd boos, unappreciative of this lifeless round.
In Hindsight - The remix is twice as long as Cresh Frazy's chillout original. Despite lots of ambient crackles and a tempo that accelerates towards the end, Qu.one overextends himself and comes off worse. 1-0
The Nex - At just over a minute long, this is a relaxing piece of breakbeat-ish electronica. Again, Qu.one beefs up the sound and the bit-crushing, but then slips in a little drum and bass to invigorate the track. 0-1
War - Two minutes of lightweight breakbeat. The remix slaps on an additional five, yes, five minutes, and a heavier kick and snare, but not much innovation. The judges wimp out: 1-1
Live @ The Latin Quarter - Ooh, latin jazz and breakbeat. The remix has nothing to do with such trifles, preferring a housey dance feel. 1-0. The crowd roars. Cresh Frazy is coming off the ropes!
Art Test (Interlude) - Almost a knockout from Cresh Frazy. Bruce Dern extols the virtues of an art course while sounding so bored that it's a wonder he stays conscious to the end of the advert. Qu.one's version, though containing more overtly funny lines, can't compete with the almost comatose Dern. 1-0
Visualeyes - Cresh Frazy mooches around an ambient intro, then wallows in a gentle guitar and trip-hop track; it's soothing and groovy. The remix does away with the noises off, ups the tempo and drops the hammer; it's energising and groovy. 1-1
Outriz - Breakbeat, vinyl crackles and jazzy guitar. I'm happy. The remix samples Thank You For The Music, a fitting end to Qu.one's tribute to Cresh Frazy's opus. He's also, you've guessed it, beefed up the bass and beats a bit. 1-1
So Qu.one slugs it out and wins 7-6 on points. Congratulations to the new kid on the block. Don King is waiting for you. Run away!
Qu.one's album doesn't remix Cresh Frazy's original so much as give it a wax and polish. There are no great compositional flourishes but it definitely sounds better - it's heavier, crisper and hence more immediate, though he's overfond of bit-crushing, IMHO. But the bulk of the credit must go to Cresh Frazy - they're his tunes. Let's say that the boxing board of control is referring the decision to arbitration.
Like a lot of people, I don't have the wherewithal to buy an album and its remix just for the fun of comparing them. Thanks to the netlabel scene, I've been able to contrast and compare these musicians' works and keep an eye out for them in the future. Why not visit their sites (and the good people at Sixteensteps netlabel) to boost the traffic of all concerned? I must stop ending these reviews with cheesy brochure-speak. There, did it.
By the way, Cresh Frazy owes me treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. Try typing his moniker and see how many mistakes you make. And a special thank you to Typepad for its crappy picture editing.
Cresh Frazy - Scrabble (link to individual mp3s)
Qu.one - Scrabble: The Unauthorized Remix (link to individual mp3s and zipped album)