"Elektrisch! 2 " (Compilation Album, 2007)
The brainchild of German label Major Records and online music mag Re-Flexion (hmm... now there's an idea), Elektrisch! 2 is the second volume of a double compilation album of (mostly) electronic pop. Twenty eight tracks - every one remixed by another artist and, in the case of Mesh and Mechanical Cabaret, some artists remix each other. The great thing about this approach is that you're effectively getting two artists for the price of one on every song. The not so great thing about this approach is that if you are unfamiliar with both the composing band and remix artist but like a track then it's often pot luck as to whether or not you'll actually like the writing band themselves - or if it turns out to be the remix artist that's actually where your tastes lie. Of course, it is possible that you'd like both. For example, take Celluloide's Who Is The Angel, with its wonderously retro deep bassline that carries an aloof but simple female vocal. I like this a lot. But do I like Celluloide or is it JB of Dekad - the remix artist - whose work I most admire? I'm not familiar with either act. Will just have to set aside some time to explore both online in more detail I guess. And surely that's the point of remix compilations?
The two CDs are split between the more established or famous names on CD1, with more newcomers and the less well-known on CD2. The line up on the first disc is impressive. Goldfrapp, Erasure, Alphaville, Client, Mesh and Andy Bell all feature highly. But if there was a reason not to trust a release on the strength of the artists names alone, then sadly, Elektrisch! 2 is a place you could start. None of the songs by the major name artists come out well of the remix mincing machine. Nowhere is this better exemplified than by the very first song To Germany With Love by Alphaville. The original is, to the uninitiated, a classic electronic track from Alphaville's landmark 1984 debut Forever Young. But Sebastian R. Komor's extended remix strips out all the drama and passion replacing it with insipid loops that merely waterdown rather than distill everything that made the original so damn good.
Being a standard barer for Mechanical Cabaret since they first appeared, whilst perpetually unconvinced by Client, it would be good to know which of the Kraftwerkian backing elements and overlaid analogue filtering of the former's remix of Client's Zerox Machine is attributable to who, as the results are certainly some of the best stuff I've ever heard Client produce. Uniquely, Roi Robertson's project is given a second opportunity on Mesh's Step by Step - unexpectedly infiltrating it with the characteristics of a Geography era Front 242 piece!
Shanghai Surprize's (sic) Euro disco Radio Edit of Erasure's All This Time Still Falling Out of Love isn't a million miles from its source material and therefore should please fans of Vince and Andy. And speaking of Mr Bell, he, along with The Manhattan Clique, has reworked Goldfrapp's Ooh La La but the finished article is just too underwhelming to register - which given Goldfrapp's current mainstream status is a major league missed opportunity. Shame.
So it falls to the smaller marquee names to raise this compilation above the merely average. IAMX is Chris Corner, formerly with electronic dahlings Sneaker Pimps, and having already scoped IAMX out on the latest Dependent sampler, his stylish contribution here consolidates his compositional skills as a cut above many of his peers. Iris' It Generates in a Darker Days mix is a textbook example of how to do decent contemporary electro pop - seemingly something only those on continental Europe can convincingly pull off these days. While Sweden's Lowe cheekily shuffles the notes to the hookline from Depeche Mode's Never Let Me Down for their track The Vanishing in a reworking by one Steve Wasabi(!). Scarlet Soho's Modern Radio (Menichal Servants remix) is an archetypal jaunty English underground electro entry. Once again Celluloide must be deserving of particular praise as their remix of Neuropa's Blitz contains another great bass synth line and range of retro electro percussion even if the core song itself isn't anything special. Nono's own (Original Version) of Geisha is something of a standout too. Not least due to Nadine Purrmann's distinctive voice which wraps itself around the minimalist electronics.
In the final analysis it's credit where credit is due but that can't be applied in any consistent manner. The best of this two-disc package, and there are undoubtedly some gems in here, needs to be extracted from the also-rans which, perhaps surprisingly, are too often the household names used to tempt the casual buyer. Looking beyond the obvious often pays dividends to the adventurous investor and Elektrisch! 2 proves the point. 7/10
Official Major website: http://www.majorrecords.de
Re-Flexion website: http://www.re-flexion.de