mercredi 26 novembre 2008

Heartbreaking house track gets the Fist fusion treatment

Back in 1997, the whole Mongoloids house sound was big on both sides of the Atlantic, with regular exchanges between Basement Jaxx and the big New York names of the time. Looking back, I'm not sure who was emulating who (Sanchez copying Basement Jaxx copying Van Helden and Masters At Work...).

Corrina Joseph was one of the early signings on BJ's Atlantic Jaxx label back in 1997 when the Brixton parties were blowing up and they still had their underground cred. For me that time is long gone, but for a few years the Jaxx boys produced a string of class tracks (and did some cracking remixes) and Corrina Joseph was their muse. Then, after a couple of singles, she disappeared. There were a few dodgy rent-a-voice sightings (notably for Kamasutra in Italy) but for all intents and purposes she had gone.

So where did she go? Well, looking at her myspace page it would seem she took some time off from singing in order to have children and enjoy life. Good for her!

Though her glory days may be behind her, her classics tracks on Atlantic Jaxx never get old. Like Lonely, with the haunting melody of the main mix perfectly counterpointing the dark ambience and (typical Basement Jaxx) studio trickery of the dub. Obviously, somebody had to splice them together, and that somebody is me.

Download 12 achingly beautiful minutes of vintage vocals and classic Basement Jaxx here:

lundi 24 novembre 2008

Grace Jones (and my exclusive re-edit)

By now you all know that commendably barmy diva/icon Grace Jones has a new album out. If you've read the reviews you'll know that it's been generally well received after a 19-year hiatus. If you've listened to it you"ll know that it's - for the most part - more of the same. Not necessarily a bad thing that, but personally I was hoping for something a little more refreshing.

Nevertheless, the rejected remix of Williams Blood (that you can get here) is rather fine, and here's Grace looking mighty impressive (she is sixty after all) on Jools Holland:



However, as usual, I'm still listening to old stuff, old Grace from young Grace, if you will. The year is 1989. Love on Top of Love is the first single from her new album Bulletproof Heart and it's very obvious that the fertile days of Slave To the Rhythm are behind her. The album will only spawn one other single, Amado Mio, and it's pretty crap. Love in Top of Love however turns out to be one the greatest Grace tracks ever - at least for me.

There are some songs that you never tire of hearing, and this one - with remixes by the genius duo Clivilles & Cole - is one of them. The Funky Dread mixes are just filthy; there's a fair bit of self-referential plundering from Slave to the Rhythm, the percussion and production are amazing, and even the semi-cheesy rap gets risqué:

Teacher teacher, jungle love creature
Whip me, rip me, flip me let me eat'cha...

Jerk me, spank me, work me and bank me
Beat me on the run when I come, then thank me

Kinda rude for a mainstream release. Anyway, as my infatuation for the song grew and grew over the years it became very obvious that I had to try and do my own version. Melding pieces of the club and dub mixes, my Fist Fusion is over ten minutes long. What I especially like is that you can't really feel the joins, always the mark of a good re-edit. Hope you'll like it too.

Click here to download my (definitive!) version. UPDATE 11/2010: now in Apple Lossless. Oh, and there's the epic and rather saucy acapella-house version here too. Now that's what I call a hurricane.

How much Mariah Carey can you take?

My answer these days is 'not very much', or simply 'none at all', but back in the days she had quite a few belters that she, er, belted out, and thank the Lord (of garage and house) for the music blogs that have reminded me.

One of them is Finest Def Mix, with Goff from Thailand (of all places) posting classic remixes from Frankie Knuckles, David Morales and Satoshi Tomiie. Some real gems on there, and quite a few rarities.

Another is Nineties Club CD Maxi Singles (the title couldn't really get more explicit than that), with some cracking stuff.

And then there's Remixes Galores which mostly posts fluffy new club stuff and has an unhealthy Kylie Minouge fixation. However, they were the ones to remind me of the splendour of Fantasy by Mariah Carey as remixed by David Morales. I had it on vinyl back in the day, but hadn't listened to it for quite a while. Hearing it again was - I have to say - a revelation.

Of course, finding two excellent mixes of the same song spurred me into action. Adding a third mix from here (basically, type the name of any piece of music into Google Blogsearch and you're likely to find it immediately) I put the drum track, tribal club mix and garage mix together to make one 20-minute extravaganza! With two slow-it-down-speed-it-up-again bits like they used to do in the old days!

I'm rather proud of it, and despite the fact that I find her recent material complete drivel, it brings back memories of better (musical) days. You know, when Mariah was Photoshopped thin.

Download my sweet sweet version here and see what you think.

What do Britney Spears and Mercury Rev have in common?

It's been tough blogging recently. I'm supervising the renovation of an apartment (supervising, as in 'not doing any of the actual physical work') and have got quite a bit of proper paid work on too, which is good, but leaves less time for the more pleasurable things in life.

And it's been an age since there been any decent music on the blog too. Time to remedy that.

I've been a fan of James Holden ever since his extraordinary and brilliant mix compilation At The Controls (available here for the ridiculous price of £4.29). His label Border Community 'blurs the boundary between the bedroom and the dancefloor', and frankly I've seen quite few people do things on the dancefloor that would be best confined to the bedroom. But anyway...

I recently came across some unreleased remixes that he did for Britney Spears. The track Breathe On Me was not released as a single and James' remixes never got released... until he put high-quality mp3s on his site for a while. There was a mix and a dub, and of course I couldn't resiste tinkering with them, so Britney got the Fist treatment: I put a bit of the dub before the main mix, the whole thing now clocks in at 12'39" and Lord I love it to bits. Download my version here.

Mr. Holden doesn't actually do many remixes, but it seems his next one is for Mercury Rev. Their next spacey album is due out 29th September, and the track Senses On Fire has been remixed both by Holden and Fujiya & Myagi (who?). The mixes are only being streamed on the official site for the moment, but you can here a pretty good quality rip here.

Holden's mix is nearly ten minutes long, and pulses along quite nicely, although I challenge anyone to actually dance to it. By the way the lyrics to the original are "Senses are on fire (repeated 8 times), My senses are on fire (x2), Ready or not here I come, Senses are on fire (repeated 8 times)." What are they on?

Download the Britney Fist Fusion here, and Mercury Rev here.

Donna Summer gets a Jason Fist re-edit

Don't ask me why, but the other day I just happened to think of the old Cassius tune 1999, a really big hit here - and probably elsewhere too - when the French Touch was at its prime. I really wanted to find the original song that they had sampled...

It took only a couple of seconds on the web to find out that it was a long forgotten tune called (If It) Hurts Just A Little by Donna Summer. 'Long forgotten' because it was a throwaway 3-minute effort off one of her dodgier earlier-80s albums (despite being produced by Quincy Jones). The album was so bad that she couldn't even be bothered to find a name for it. It was just called Donna Summer. Crap.

30 seconds later, I'd found a site comparing the original with the Cassius tune. 2 hours later a pal had e-mailed me the tune from his personal stash of sampled discotronica. Hurrah!

The only problem was that the part I really like - the sample - only lasts 8 bars. What is one to do? Especially if you only have an ageing Mac and a simple sound editing program (no special sound card, no Protools)... Well, the answer is: you do your best.

It took a couple of hours, with quite a bit of fine tuning, but I'm pleased with the result. I've taken the break from the middle and inserted it in an extended end section. Although the song is intact from the beginning to about 3'15", the rest is my hard toil, all the more pleasing because you can't really tell.

Download my humble re-edit (which should really just be called "Jason Fist jigged about with the end bit") here. And as always, feel free to tell me what you think.

Donna Summer - (If It) Hurts Just A Little (Jason Fist re-edit)

P.S. Don't forget to cringe at the 1'20" mark when Donna sings "And the lies... can be cold as ice". And she really means it.

Music was better in 1994/1995

Sorry, but I really do think so.

For example, the concept for this record from 1995 sounds like the worst idea ever; take a soppy power ballad by Foreigner and do a wailing diva garage remix. Run away, run away!

No, come back.

Satoshi Tomiie, part of the New York Def Mix team (David Morales, Frankie Knuckles...) was at the peak of his form in 1995. He simply dropped Terri Symon's original lilting FM-friendly vocal, used a different take of the song at house tempo (obviously recorded especially with a house mix in mind), and created a positively blazing, absolute classic remix. Dripping with drama from start to finish (ie, it's a bit gay), the long piano intro leads into a song which is now completely unrecognisable from the original version. Only at the very end does the original chorus get a look in, but by that time you're hooked, you've been had, but you're happy.

In the end, the song's gospel-led chorus of "I want to feel what love is, I know you can show me" turns out to be perfect garage fodder.

Remixers would often also do a dub of the same song for mixing in the harder clubs, and Satoshi's dub of this track was also to be a masterpiece. Darker, with stabbing chords, searing high vocals and a sense of foreboding, it also happened to be at the same tempo as the vocal mix.

It was just too tempting to not put them together.

So here you have it: the Jason Fist re-edit (14'25") of the Satoshi Tomiie club and dub mixes! Heaven for garage lovers, probably hell for everyone else. What I especially like is that you can't quite tell where the two segue. Although it was one of my first edits, and the track is now twelve years old, I still listen to this with the same pleasure.

Which brings me back to the title of this post: they don't make them like this any more. The amount of work put into this track is incredible.

Too much for you? Here is the video to the Foreigner original, all in slow motion, very 9 1/2 weeks in parts, with a lot of studio session footage that we are supposed to believe is really them recording, and a truly sick-inducing ending (hint: he finds out what love is).

Also included below, for the kitsch factor, is the radio version of the Terri Symon track before it got remixed to destruction. Yuck! I think you'll find the garage version a little less sickly...

Classic (but far too slow) French track from the 80s gets Jason Fist re-edit

A lot of people outside of France my not have heard of Axel Bauer. Here, he was a one-hit wonder in 1983, but what a hit! 700,000 copies of Cargo de Nuit were sold However, his follow-up single bombed, the third single did even worse... Axel disappeared, and nobody really cared.

He's still around though, doing the odd gig and TV show, a duet here and there. Nothing very remarkable. Say Axel Bauer and all people will be able to tell you is that he did Cargo de Nuit.

I only heard the track about a year ago, but everyone in France (that is, everyone born before 1980) can sing it by heart. I though it could do with a remix.

Firstly, it was at dub reggae speed, hardly ready to set light to the dancefloor. I sped it up by about 15%, which is huge. Then I extended the beats at the beginning, doubled up some guitar riffs after the chorus, and above all elongated a rather nice bit of Arab percussion, adding some squidgy electronic effects on the second half.

I'm really pleased with it! Download it here.

And have a look at the video below, a sexy Querelle-a-like affair directed by fashion god Jean-Baptise Mondino. Ahh, the 80's. Perhaps they weren't all bad?

The Notwist get a Jason Fist (slight) re-edit

How can you not love The Notwist? Heart-wrenching vocals, evident ease with electronics, a hint of jazz... They're hardly prolific (new album please!) but their music is endlessly beautiful, even after repeated listening.

I thought I'd tinker with Trashing Days from their last album Neon Golden. I wanted to enhance the dramatic transition between the calm first part and the percussive, all-too-short second half, so I stretched and re-stretched a couple of beats to make a pause before the climax.

There's also some minor mucking about with the intro and outro. Hardly a full workover, but I'm please with the simplicity of it. Download it here.

Can't wait to watch the DVD chronicling the making of the album too.

And if you've only just discovered them, don't miss out on the previous, lesser-known album Shrink, available for just over a tenner here.

Classic eighties track was just too slow

Whilst looking for another classic track (Our Love Is History by Mai Tai), I came across Thinking About Your Loving by Skipworth & Turner on Digital Eargasm, surely the ugliest blog with the worst ever name. Lucky they have some classic tracks on there.

I thought Skipworth & Turner were a couple (think I'm getting them mixed up with Ashford & Simpson). In fact they were two Americans with pretty naff hats that had mild success in the mid-eighties, plus one really big hit, Thinking About Your Loving.

I loved this tune, but when I listened to it again it seemed r-e-a-l-l-y slow.

Thank goodness for Timestreach (for Mac), a program that I bought for changing the speed of music without changing the pitch; the sound quality's good, it's cheap, but it could do with some more features. Usually you need to go to +2% or +4% to get a slowish track sounding right. I pushed this one up to +12%, shaving a whole minute off it! I think it sounds much better like that. The original would have modern dancefloors asleep on their feet.

So, download the Jason Fist 'speed-up' version here.

You'll still find some of Skipworth & Turner's records, including pikey new remixes, on amazon.

The Killers get a re-edit

This is another track that I came across via hypemachine. All life is there.

I can't say I'm a fan of The Killers. They seem like a standard stadium-rock U2 copy (albeit replete with Depeche Mode-style photography from Anton Corbijn), and their lyrics are shite. Pure major-label product. However, I was looking for some Stuart Price remixes for a friend and found this one.

It was a bit too fast to dance to though, so I slowed it down with my Mac. The beginning sounded great, but the end sounded too slow. So I sped it back up again, faster than the original.

What you get is a dancefloor singalong rock song that changes tempo for a demented punk-disco ending. Much better now!

Download it here.

And here's the extended 'arty' video for the single version, directed by Anthony Mandler. Does anyone know what on earth they are going on about?

The Black Ghosts, my re-edit

I first heard about The Black Ghosts thanks to a Switch remix that I found on hypemachine (what a great site). A little later I got to hear the Boy-8-Bit version of Anyway You Choose To Give It, and finally stumbled upon the Fake Blood mix. I loved both the remixes, and something told me I could have some fun tinkering with them.

Both have a very different take on the song; Boy-8-Bit is obviously retro and fully vocal, Fake Blood (who are these guys?) are heavy on the Max Headroom-style stuttering and rave sounds.

However, both mixes are at exactly the same speed and in the same key. Putting them together was just a question of finding the right moment, and tweaking the levels a little bit where the two are superposed. Frankly, it's one of my all-time favourite, seamless edits.

Download the 9-minute beauty here (you'll need iTunes to listen).

And here's the video. It's kinda cheap and silly - Fame meets a physics lesson - but I suppose they need a bit of MTV airplay to get them going.


Apparently a full album is due this year through Southern Fried.