Röyksopp – Remind Me / So Easy

It’s rare that I cover singles in the review section, and when I do, they have to be very special indeed. This one definitely is. This week in 2002, Röyksopp seemed to appear pretty much out of nowhere, with this gem.

Of course, their appearance wasn’t really quite that sudden. Over the preceding year or so, the singles Eple and Poor Leno had each appeared at least once already, and the album had been floating around in the lower reaches of the charts for some time as well, but this was the moment they really found fame.

The Someone Else’s Radio Mix of Remind Me is sublime. Whereas the original album version was a simple lounge piece which plodded along very pleasantly with a great vocal from Erlend Øye, this version brings enormous retro synth backing, and adds an actual chorus. Röyksopp have recorded some fantastic songs in the fifteen years that have followed, but nothing has ever been quite this good.

So Easy comes next. It wasn’t originally going to be on the single, but then the BT advert appeared in the UK, with the huge baby’s face, one of those adverts that you probably still remember today, and so it had to be included. It’s a great track, which only falls down slightly when you realise quite how much it’s been stretched out in order to last three and a half minutes. But aside from that, it’s really rather beautiful.

James Zabiela‘s Ingeborg mix of Remind Me closes the first CD, a pleasant chilled out version which adds urban samples and an enormous bass line to the original album version, but doesn’t quite have the shine of the single version. But that would be asking a lot – this is still excellent.

There’s really very little to fault here, with a beautifully designed CD sleeve showing cloud nestling, probably in a fjord or something, two great versions of Remind Me, and the adorable So Easy as well.

Unfortunately the second disc is a bit of a waste, and seems to have been thrown together a little too quickly – we get the album version of So Easy again, followed by the album version of Remind Me, before finally getting Tom Middleton‘s Cosmos mix of the main track, a long house version which isn’t quite as good as the remixer’s reputation would make you think it should be.

Worth tracking down are the 12″ versions, which bring you Someone Else’s Club Mix of Remind Me, which I suspect might have been an interim version between the album and radio mixes, and also Ernest Saint Laurent‘s Moonfish mix, which is probably as close as anything on this album can get to electro, but at the same time pulls some of the more chilled elements out from the album version.

If anything in Röyksopp‘s early years helped shape the sound of future albums The Understanding and Junior, I suspect it was the remix of Remind Me which led this single. It’s extraordinarily good, and is definitely worth owning in its own right.

If you prefer to buy new, the best you can manage now seems to be an oddly tagged collection of MP3s here. Otherwise track down the original CD release, which may or may not be here.

Vinyl Moments – Röyksopp

There’s something particularly Nordic about Röyksopp. Somehow their music really captures the cold, lonely, and deeply beautiful pine forests and fjords. For this Vinyl Moment, I decided to start with the lovely Someone Else’s Club Mix of Remind Me.

IMG_1088

This is a curious single – Side A clocks in at well under four minutes, and for some reason runs at 45 RPM while Side B is 33. I’ve reflected previously on what might have happened with this version, and can only conclude that it’s a work in progress between the original version and the Someone Else’s Radio Mix that brought Röyksopp to my attention back in 2002. What would become the chorus – the “remind oh remind oh remind me” part – is still hiding in the middle section, and the squealy synth part that was originally where the chorus ought to be is still here.

So it’s maybe not quite as good as the final radio version, but it’s still very good indeed. From the second 12″ of the same single (or it might be the first – who knows which way around they’re meant to be heard?) I picked Ernest Saint Laurent‘s pleasant Moonfish Mix, an electro version which skips most of the lyrics, but still explores some interesting territory over its seven minute duration.

I don’t recall being entirely convinced about either side of the two-track promo for Sparks, so on a whim I picked Derrick Carter‘s So B.H.Q. remix of So EasySparks was an awkward final single from Melody AM, with some very odd remix choices, and this is a particularly curious one, although it’s better than I remembered. It’s mainly built on some tribal beats and a funky acid bassline, working around the computerised “so easy” from the introduction. There’s even the occasional hint of the original melody here and there, if you listen very carefully. I’m still not sure how much I like it, but it isn’t too bad.

Jumping ahead a couple of years, we arrive at the “difficult” second album, and its exceptional lead hit Only This Moment. The remixes were a mixed bag, but I opted for Alan Braxe and Fred Falke‘s version on Side A of the 12″ single. This mix turns out to be a massive, throbbing deep house reworking of the original, which is actually reasonably good, in spite of some slightly awkward chord changes.

The 7″ single for Only This Moment provides something very special – at the time, it would have been the first taste of the adorable What Else is There? but even now it’s an exclusive edit, which is something to treasure. Hidden away on Side B of a long-forgotten single, it sounds particularly fantastic, although it does end rather suddenly, leaving you wanting the unedited version.

Second single 49 Percent delivers another selection of remixes, and I decided to go for Ewan Pearson‘s Glass Half Full remix. It’s an interesting version, mainly building on the original by adding some more beats and bonus noises here and there. It works though – this is every bit as good as the original version.

Last but not least, the curious 7″ picture disc of 49 Percent, for the time being the last Röyksopp single that I own on vinyl, which I’m pretty sure I’ve never actually listened to before. As its b-side, it includes a track which also appeared on the bonus disc of The Understanding. Maybe it’s not as good as most of the things on the album, but it’s still pretty uplifting, and it makes a pretty strong statement to conclude this first run of Vinyl Moments.

So for now, Go Away. The next series of Vinyl Moments will follow in the New Year.

Depeche Mode – Remixes 2: 81-11

However I tackle it, this review is going to be pretty epic. I’ve got three discs to plough through. But that makes it sound like a chore, which this definitely is not, and since Depeche Mode have a new album coming out next week, it makes sense to go back and look at their last release, their second album Remixes 2: 81-11. So strap yourself in, and let’s take a journey through another thirty years of remixes.

The formula is much the same as their first remix album, 2004’s The Remixes 81-04. You get two discs or so of goodies from the past, followed by a disc of new mixes. This time around, the title is a little deceptive, as the earliest track is actually from 1985, but we’ll forgive them that small oversight.

The first track is Bushwacka‘s brilliant take on 2001’s Dream On, turning it into a strangely chilled out house track which bobs along wonderfully for six minutes or so. M83‘s French electro version of Suffer Well (2006) follows, making for an excellent pair of opening tracks. There are also standout versions of In Chains by Tigerskin and Corrupt by Efdemin, but on balance I think the rest of the first disc is less exciting, and it probably is my least favourite of the three.

Until the final trio of tracks. Nestling seductively in between Spirit Feel‘s Anandamidic mix of Walking in My Shoes (2009) and Darren Price‘s brilliant version of 1997 b-side Slowblow is something rather extraordinary. A new version of one of their finest moments Personal Jesus, remixed by the incredible Stargate.

This was the lead single for the collection, and although not a massive hit, it really was rather special. Transforming the electro-blues-rock stylings of the original into a massive bouncy dance-pop radio-friendly track is nothing short of genius. And it’s every bit as exceptional as that sounds.

Disc 2 kicks off with more bounce in the shape of Trentemøller‘s excellent 2009 version of Wrong, which takes the dark power of the original and channels into something more club-friendly. Great moments follow from François Kevorkian (twice) among others, building up to Jacques Lu Cont‘s remix of A Pain That I’m Used to (2005). This and the moody Monolake mix of The Darkest Star (2006) which follows are the definite highlights of this CD for me. The latter throbs along gently for about six minutes, with the accompaniment of the “whisper” voice from Mac OS X, which always makes for a welcome addition.

The rest of the second disc is consistently strong, with great remixes from United (Barrel of a Gun), Dan the Automator (Only When I Lose Myself) and Ernest Saint Laurent with Sie Medway-Smith (Ghost). And then it’s onto the new stuff in earnest.

Disc three opens with and closes with another two great new mixes of Personal Jesus, the first of which is by Alex Metric, and Eric Prydz follows with his take on Never Let Me Down Again. It’s then time for the first of two spectacularly special moments, as Vince Clarke turns up for his quite excellent version of Behind the Wheel. As with much of his recent work, it’s a lot darker and more electro than you might expect, but it’s still rather brilliant.

The next moment of real fan excitement comes a couple of tracks later when Alan Wilder turns up to take on In Chains. Sounding not unlike Recoil‘s recent work, it does make you wonder slightly what might happen if they were to work together again in earnest.

Röyksopp‘s version of Puppets is every bit as excellent as you would expect, and in fact the vast majority of this final disc is extremely strong. Karlsson and Winnberg (from Miike Snow) are worthy of special mention for the breakdown in the last verse of Tora! Tora! Tora! which serves to underline Dave Gahan‘s wonderful pronunciation of “skellington”.

Joebot‘s version of A Question of Time is a fantastic surprise near the end, and Sie Medway-Smith‘s version of Personal Jesus which closes the collection is very good too. All in all, a great final disc to close an extremely strong remix collection – and I’m not even a huge fan of remixes on the whole.

There are bonus mixes available from various online retailers, although none of the ones I heard was anything particularly special. Stick to the main collection, and you’ve got another quite brilliant album from The Mode. And what more could you ask for?

You can enjoy the triple disc version of the album for a ridiculously bargain price from Amazon UK now.