When I were a lad, back in’t day, a remix usually meant that the 7” single version of a song had been extended for the 12” version. Frustratingly, the chorus now came in at the beginning of the song (where it shouldn’t), there were long instrumental passages with slightly louder drums and sometimes the most innocuous lyric repeated over and over. More often than not, it all just sounded a bit shit. Gimme the 7” version, any day. However, in the late 1980’s, things started to improve drastically and the remix version of a song could become something else entirely. The most obvious example that springs to mind is Andrew Weatheralls remix of Primal Screams 1989 so-so ballad “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” to create the monster that was and still is “Loaded”. He didn’t just remix it, he took it back to the very bare bones and then totally re-created the song with the help of a drum-loop and a fistful of Class A’s. Actually, I’m astonished Bobby Gillespie had the nous to go with it, considering he was virtually removed from the record.
Well, a similar thing has happened on our very own doorsteps, with Lyndon Scarfe’s ‘Industrial Remix’ of System of Hate’s “Insanity” EP. He has taken a record I really like….and turned it inside out to create a record I now really, really like. Similar to Weatherall, Lyndon’s ‘Industrial Remix’ strips many of the songs right back and then like Dr Victor Frankenstein, he creates new life ! Almost doubling the original running length of the EP, he has taken Systems ‘dark punk’ into fresh and exciting areas, that maybe they never thought they would venture.
The first track, “Insanity” has its backing vocals extended and brought right up in the mix, with the original saxophone now wailing an almost Eastern melody. There is now a weird sound, running concurrently through the track, like a thousand pissed off wasps trapped in a lift shaft, but it’s fantastic. A bit like listening to the Thirteenth Floor Elevators for the first time and not knowing what that bizarre ‘wooga wooga’ sound is (it was Tommy Halls electric jug) Mocking laughter reverberates, as we are bludgeoned with repeated chants of “Insanity”.
An essential ingredient to my love for this band is Paddy O’Neills epic, melodic bass lines and “Ashes of Divinity” features my favourite. The man is a genius. Insistent, dark, rhythmic, it is now given the space and opportunity to breath here, ably supported by Martins keyboard. Carls drums sound tribal and taut, before exploding almost 3 minutes in and pushing the track to a satisfying close.
“The Dogs of War” now has a much more relaxed feel to it than the original version and is much longer. The aggression of Pat’s guitar has been tempered somewhat, but still retains its malevolence. Heavens to Betsy, Lyndon’s even thrown in a dancey drum beat with an undercurrent of an early 1990’s club bass line bubbling away. Again, the original backing vocals are brought to the fore and used as the lead. However, two minutes in and singer Suty reclaims the track with his primeval growl and the pace picks back up, the repeated call and response like an insane Dictators call to arms on the eve of invasion.
Now, I happen to know from the man himself, that the first three tracks were remixed with what System of Hate might find pleasing, but with the remix of the final track, “Infected”, Lyndon decided to simply please himself. What pleases him, pleases me. It is impossible to get bored of this track. Try it. I guarantee you won’t. Easily the most radically different-from-the-original of all the four tracks, it is a tour de force in what can be achieved with some imagination and a good pair of ears. The flesh, muscle and sinew of the original has been cut away and fed to the dogs (of war) All that remains on the slab is the fettered bones, around which Lyndon has reconstructed his twisted creature. I originally wrote on Facebook that it reminded me of those late 1970’s/early 1980’s John Carpenter soundtracks and even weeks later, I still can’t really put it any better than that. It is perfect night time driving music – chilling, eerie, spell binding. Listening to it, I want to don a bandana and cruise up and down in a cool American car, scaring the shit out of the neighbourhood.
Talking of my neighbours , they’ll tell you I’m no gardener, but I do like to watch things grow and develop and I have been watching System of Hate do that over the last two years. The very idea of an “Industrial Remix” CD was a pleasant surprise to me, but the reality is even better and as an experiment it has thoroughly paid off. Buy it.