By: Chris Schwarzkopf
Every so often I have the chance to listen to an album or EP that brings into sharp focus the reasons why I enjoy electronic music so much. SunSquabi
’s second EP, Echoes
, falls into this category.
Aptly named, the EP consists of six tracks, five of which are remixes: in essence, “echoes” of the originals. But the coup here is that Chris Anderson, Andrew Clymer and Kevin Donohue haven’t merely remixed five songs, but have simplified them and changed their focus. Prominent features are deemphasized, or eliminated, and major synthetic portions are traded for their organic counterparts. As I’ve said before, the goal of a good remix should be to bring something unexpected, but no less compelling, out of the original.
It’s a gross understatement to say that Daft Punk are electronic pioneers. “Voyager,” from the duo’s 2001 album, Discovery
, is already a downright funky house tune. When SunSquabi gets ahold of it, it becomes, somehow, even funkier. The cyclical bass guitar melody of the original was played underneath synth waves. Here, it is moved to the foreground as high, clear guitar. Live bass and drums follow the melody along with additional keys and synth effects. SunSquabi also brings the pace of the song down to about midtempo.
The opposite is true for the remix of Lenny Kravitz’ “Fly Away.” The heavier guitar riff of the original is absent, replaced by a simpler guitar and bass rhythm and a faster-paced backbeat that’s a combination of drums, synth and some pre-programmed percussion.
Most surprising is the remix of the theme to the HBO series Game of Thrones
. As with “Voyager,” the melody is presented alternatively, a string section traded for guitar. Parts of the original melody slip through to punctuate the guitar and echoing, wobbling synthesizers hold up the whole thing.
Another surprise comes with Mochipet’s “Mochipet is Evil.” Ordinarily a lurid, reggae and bass concoction, in SunSquabi’s hands “Mochipet is Evil” becomes pensive, almost grim. The song’s uptempo, thumping and pulsating beat is replaced by airy, sustained guitar chords and the tempo is brought down.
The Prodigy’s wicked, crunching “Warrior’s Dance” is given a retro reworking. Blasting bass is replaced by frenetic guitar and the song becomes something approaching punk, bolstered by electronic elements.
The EP ends on a decidedly goofy note with “Just the Tip,” the lone original track featuring audio clips from the Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly movie Stepbrothers
. It’s the shortest track and has a lighthearted, somewhat silly beat with some piano licks thrown in.
“Echoes” is impressive, to say the least. On an EP that isn’t even thirty minutes long, SunSquabi makes each track stand out. The trio accomplished the same thing with the three remixes on its first EP, Catastrophic
, from the beginning of this year. It’s obvious the trio possess sound judgment when it comes to interpretation—and reinterpretation, for that matter. If the remixes are this strong, we should look forward to more.