The astute blurb on the release page at IDMf netlabel for Halogen - Length and Brecht (Remixed) compares it to a classical composition. Uncannily, the EP, consisting as it is does of one track by Halogen, a Brighton-based artist, and three remixes by other musos, feels as though it's the work of one person bent on producing a four-movement composition; there isn't the usual jarring, though often enjoyable, scramble of disparate sounds one associates with remixes essayed by musicians eager to parade their own production's fireworks.
Halogen's original track features a langorous descending piano motif in an abyssal acoustic that is so big it allows for the hammering of the top notes, whose fortississimo is made bearable by the cushioning reverb. A ghostly female vocal joins in and wraps your ears in swaddling clothes while a cello adds to the warmth. Remove 60 seconds from the five-minute running time and you have a contender for the chill-out track of the year. The combination of a cavernous reverb and a leisurely theme reminds me, scandalously you might think, of Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, composed specifically to take advantage of Gloucester Cathedral's superb acoustics. It's a wafer-thin connection, to be sure, but the ethos - if not the execution - is similar.
Strangely enough, the third track, the Field Rotation remix, is a gnat's todger longer than Halogen's original, but feels shorter even though the pace is funereal. A feather-light percussive rhythm, bass booms and swirling vocals blend into the mix to make something that should not be listened to while operating heavy machinery. Play it on a good stereo and alert the coast guard for beached whales. /badtaste
The tempo ups with the appearance of the Woodnote remix, whose synths and crunchy, granular goodness are the fibre in Halogen's musical muesli. It forms an impressive ending to "/Remixed/" as we must call it.
Today's recommended track, Synaecide's remix, (track two) could be described as the allegro of the four movements. Its snippets of the album's overriding piano motif and heart-stoppingly beautiful grainy vocals will give listeners a taste of what to expect elsewhere in the EP. However, Synaecide has also pressed the big red button marked (wears nose-peg in distaste) “IDM” and given us a whirlwind of glitches and clicks that provide an outlet for the suppressed emotion in the other three tracks. It becomes an electro romp with a gnarly bass line punctuated by a brief mid-riff "skip" in tempo; a compositional flourish that I'm sure RWV would have enjoyed. If Woodnote adds fibre, Halogen - Length and Brecht (Synaecide Remix) adds roughage.
Free music is rather scrumptious, isn't it?
I'm now going to undermine completely my pretentious burblings about over-arching compositional structures, etc., by advising listeners to rearrange the tracks' order so that Halogen's effort is followed by Woodnote's and then Synaecide's. That way, your ears build towards a climax (I apologise for that mental image) and then get a rubdown from Field Rotation's chill-out track: when the piano motif resurfaces, it feels like an old friend has returned. I've listened to /Remixed/ a lot and the track order is the only minor quibble I have, even though I've wibbled on about the importance of structural unity. Me = idiot. The album is a treat however you want to listen to it.
I dust memove by - sorry, I must remove my nose-peg to admit that I have nothing against IDM per se apart from the term itself, which I think is nonsensical and divisive. I especially have nothing against IDMf netlabel, which should be proud of itself for releasing such marvellous collections, and the IDM Forum, which should be proud of itself for keeping its shy and retiring members safe and secure in their little padded cells. Please keep the wardens on their toes by sending the netlabel lots of congratulatory emails and a promise of a gold watch - if a Paypal icon ever appears on their site. ;)
Halogen - Length and Brecht (Remixed) (link to zipped album & individual files)