By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Columbia: Many hours of unreleased Miles from this period exist. Can we get more?
The past remixed is you remixed. Hearing
it done can make you feel strong and absolved of your history, but also insubstantial, impermanent. So how do you feel when you hand your own precious art over to the unclean consoles of infidels?
Screenwriters get a bellyful of this - maybe Ryuichi Sakamoto does too, considering the soundtracks (Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence; The Sheltering Sky; etc.) he's made. A techno-pop pioneer in the '70s with the Yellow Magic Orchestra, Sakamoto recently took to straight orchestral music with the "Grief"/"Anger"/"Prayer"/ "Salvation" cycle Untitled 01 (on the Sony Classical CD Discord). And then he did a highly unusual thing: He had it "remixed."
The music on Anger/Grief - The Remixes is "remixed" Sakamoto only in the sense that moussaka is "remixed" lamb. Sakamoto's own Web site describes the "rearrangements" he personally requested as "strange and brutal." They're also a big improvement.
Possibly, Sakamoto suspects that his original Untitled 01 is not all it could be - it's a soundtrack without a movie (though the CD does contain a multimedia ROM selection). "Grief" embodies a kind of Winona-Ryder-trying-to-be-dark-again quality. "Anger" should feature Yul Brynner. On "Prayer," Merchant-Ivory goes Gregorian. And "Salvation" features the likes of Laurie Anderson and Patti Smith babbling their observations - almost inaudibly, which perhaps Sakamoto meant as a statement.
The remixes trash all that. Amon Tobin's "Grief" remix twists with a deep synth groan before its busy drum machines batter against both the rhythm and the concept of the original strings. The other four tracks remix "Anger," which is Untitled 01's best movement, but that doesn't earn Sakamoto any reverence. You can hardly find him in Rare Force's stab, which launches with drums worthy of "Walk This Way" and hammers coarse synth on the two-beat. Talvin Singh is the trippiest, using percussion loops and mutated vocal samples to establish his countermood, which, like Rare Force's, screams "Meth" more than "Anger." Chocolate Weasel's mix is the least successful, grudgingly retaining the original's structure, emphasizing its cinematic stings, simply grafting some hip-hop beats on top. And Fernando Aponte's "edit" (the closest thing to a remix here) dips the volume of the strings, dramatically displaying how effective "Anger" could have been if it weren't so damn literal.
This isn't remixing, it's gang rape. And Sakamoto - who has worked with Laswell, by the way - brought the Vaseline, transforming a wimpy piece of dilettante fodder into harsh, bristling electricity. "Is this the true Sakamoto?" you wonder. His name's on it, bubba, just like Warhol's. That's about as true as it gets.