Plucked to be the final single from Matthew Dear’s inky, goth-infused Black City album from last year is ‘Slowdance.’ It was a sombre end note (despite being at the heart of the album) with croaking vocals, cold, long tailed synths and a heavy heeled gait that lingered well after it finished playing. It still sounds great, frankly, and just as good when re-imagined by How To Dress Well, Todd Edwards and Bear In Heaven.
Witchiness abounds in the How To Dress Well version, with cloaks of echo and reverb hanging in the air, only to be pierced by an angelic voice which sings out into a dark cold night. It’s ghostly and, although delicate and sparse, is veiled in emo-overtones. Garage godfather Todd Edwards goes for a much fuller sound, with flutes and strings fluttering to form a colourful, busy backdrop. With a broken, punchy beat and cut up melodies elsewhere, it’s alive with a spring day freshness that so opposes the dark winter vibes of the original, without sounding like a whole new track. Bear in Heaven lay on plenty of frozen, lo-fi chords, squiggly laser sounds and churning percussion to make for a ramshackle arrangement that gypsys along as if it may all fall to pieces at any one point, but that never quite does.
But that’s not all – there are a collection of other remixes on here too, plus a b-side, ‘Innh Daah’ which is all churchy, bell-laden ambience and dreamy Dear vocals. Photocall pops up twice, first re-rubbing ‘You Put a Smell On Me’ into a wide-awake, frosty house number not a million miles away from the sort of thing Ivan Smagghe might play, then again with an instrumental version. The same song is deconstructed by Breakbot and Nicolas Jaar, where the former opts for a DIY pop version and the latter a deep, organic and spare house mould.
Ahead of the release of his album in May, Mark E injects the element of repetition, dashes of cosmic dust and a more expansive approach to sound design than the original version of ‘Little People (Black City), before Sascha Dive turns in the most standard offering. His simple but no doubt effective house interpretation may not warrant its full nine-odd minutes, but otherwise everything here is deserving of its place.
Kristan J Caryl for AUTOBRENNT