The art of the remix is an interesting one — depending on context, it can be a fascinating reinterpretation of an existing track or a throwaway four-to-the-floor cash cow. There have been some great remixes over the years, of course — indeed, some have ended up being more definitive than the original (we looked at some such tracks here). And then there’s the remix album, which is a whole different beast. Like, for instance, the fantastic Philip Glass remix album, which has been on high rotation at Flavorpill central of late — since it’s soundtracking our countdown to the apocalypse, we thought we’d take a look at it and some of the other great remix albums from throughout the history of music. As ever, let us know (nicely) if you reckon we’ve missed any.
Philip Glass — Rework_Philip Glass Remixed
This is one of the more fascinating projects of the year, and having had time to digest it, we’re happy to report that it’s great. Our favorite reinterpretation comes from Beck, of all people, but the whole thing’s worth listening to — sadly, the full album stream that has was up at NPR a couple of weeks back has been taken down, but you can hear still here the aforementioned Beck remix here.
Massive Attack — No Protection
Perhaps the most memorable remix project of the ’90s, this record saw Jamaican dub legend take the controls of Massive Attack’s second album, Protection. The results were pretty great, and arguably better than Protection itself — the epic, bass-heavy reworking of the album’s title track is a particular highlight, but it’s all good. We’ve embedded that track above, but (whisper it quietly) you can hear the whole record on YouTube here.
Jamie xx and Gil Scott-Heron — We’re New Here
And meanwhile, this has surely been the most memorable remix album of the 2010s thus far. Jamie “xx” Smith reinvented Gil Scott-Heron’s valedictory masterpiece I’m New Here for the dance floor, imbuing it with a certain lightness of touch while losing none of the original’s emotional impact. It has led to the occasional amusing look of horror when we’ve played the original album to friends who’ve only heard the Jamie xx version, mind.
Augustus Pablo — King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown
Jamaica’s influence on DJ culture has been well-documented (and makes for some pretty fascinating reading if you’re not well-versed in its history). The idea of remixing comes straight from dub culture, and this record — a selection of dubplate reinterpretations of Augustus Pablo’s tracks by production legend King Tubby — is a classic of the genre, as well as one of the most influential remix albums of all time.
Danger Mouse — The Grey Album
The great clandestine remix project of the ’00s, and something of a holy grail when it first appeared in 2004, largely because its use of music from The Beatles’ White Album had EMI’s copyright lawyers going batshit. The idea of mixing The White Album with Jay-Z’s The Black Album was both amusing and inspired, and the results lived up to the album’s underground legend.
Depeche Mode — Remixes 81-04
More a collection of remixes than a remix album per se, sure, but this is still worth including because the remixes in question are so damn good. The fact that there were three discs’ worth didn’t hurt, either.
Throbbing Gristle — Mutant Throbbing Gristle
We are generally all for anything Throbbing Gristle-related, and this relatively rare record is worth tracking down (especially if you can find the limited edition white-label, in which case, score!). It features remixes from Carl Craig, Two Lone Swordsmen, and, most intriguingly, Carter Tutti — amongst other things, the two former band members turn their attention to the ever-horrifying “Hamburger Lady.”
Goldfrapp — We Are Glitter
The dance-floor-friendly sounds of Supernature lent themselves well to remixing, and Goldfrapp took full advantage with this record. The list of remixers on duty was an impressively varied one — everyone from Italian über-DJ Benny Benassi to The Flaming Lips and Icelandic experimentalists Múm contributed tracks. It’s hard to believe Goldfrapp went from this to the pastoral folk of Seventh Tree — but, y’know, that’s why we love them.
Björk — Telegram
As the name might suggest, Telegram is a selection of reinterpretations of tracks off Post, and makes for generally fascinating listening. Björk’s embraced the concept of the remix throughout her career — as well as Telegram, there’s the amusingly titled The Best Mixes from the Album Debut for All the People Who Don’t Buy White Labels — and this is her most coherent and engaging remix disc.
DFA — The DFA Remixes
And finally, let us sneak in another remix compilation to finish with. James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy had the remixing touch of Midas throughout most of the ’00s — pretty much everything they touched was a triumph, and this collates most of their best moments in one handy package (although not, curiously, their fantastic reworking of MIA’s “Paper Planes”). Our favorite? The slow funk remix of Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon,” which remains a singular work of genius, ten years after it first appeared on the second Futurism compilation. Ah, the memories.