In the hands of popular artists, the concept of a remix album may be construed as cheap, exploitive and lazy. Vanilla Ice or Paula Abdul remix albums of yesteryear come snorting amusedly into mind, cash cow contract filler albums, most assuredly. Linkin Park's standout Reanimation or The Cure's Mixed Up proves that remixes, when handled properly and innovatively, can often chart unexplored avenues of the original source material. Nobody can remix like Depeche Mode, New Order or Prince, the indisputable leaders of the technique, yet the inhabitants of the electronica underworld have made the art of the remix a genuine cult movement, particularly by inviting guests to put their spins to existing tunes, normally to a rave-friendly post effect. The glorious Idiot Stare's Ghost(1) remix flotilla notwithstanding, Decomposition: Reinventing Minefield may be one of the best remix albums ever. Regrooved from Minefield's After the Ball(2), it may come across as potentially brash to remix a mere five-song E.P., yet the enterprise to revamp Toronto native Tamara Kent's forlorn mood swings proves to be a worthwhile venture.
It would probably be best to cluster the individual songs and their respective remixes. It's Too Late has perhaps the most memorable vocals by Tamara Kent (who operates simply as Tamara), a haunting mimicry of Tori Amos with a chorus that remains imprinted on the brain even without the repetitious reworks. The Karl Mohr Hungry Devils Remix is hard coldwave, edgy and slinky with a snarling dance track. The Ingrown remix is more standard with a slower tempo and a textured blend of Goth and electronica with classical overtones. A rhapsodic series of carousel-like chimes in the latter portion of Ingrown's interpretation enraptures the listener. Synthetic Dream Foundation's Apparilions Remix is playful, reflective, transient and even child-like, at times aloof in a pleasing manner when it loses itself in the original source. The Dead Poets Society remix is not as engaging, but still shimmers with a hypnotic trance and rhythmic syncopation.
Control takes a series of enlightening spins through the options of its masterfully aligned artists. The Blue Mars Cannabis Remix is dark, sinister with a sexy groove grind. Tamara's vocals are less Tori-like on Control, accented fully on the Soy Futura remix, which opts to highlight her voice atop a pulsing backbeat and guitar synths that only take precedence during breakaway moments. The Soviet Radio Remix has a nifty and creative march tone, almost Oakenfold-ish in nature; the confident synths produce a proud hammer and sickle nod to a nearly forgotten regime. The Cryptomnesia Remix is probably Decomposition's most sparkling moment: an accelerating tribal beat drives the song and crushes the source, exuberating itself excitedly. The percussive resonance generated from the digital beat is astonishing on this track, and must be heard to be believed.
After the Ball is the song most often twisted to extremes. The Dead Poets Society's Stark Raven Mad Remix has more sex appeal than Asia Carrere in a service-filled threesome. Tamara's Madonna-esque vocals on After the Ball lend to this orgasmic beat-driven jam, which should induce erection upon listen. A gorgeous chime melody only adds to the satisfaction. Tamara herself gets to dicker with her own music by offering her Noisey Little Brain Remix. Stripped down in comparison, an almost Middle Eastern essence reverberates at first, then giddily spews a loud spook synth that sounds like a nostalgic creature feature theme. Tamara's mix sounds deliberately tweaked for the sheer fun of it. Meanwhile, Spectre VII's Broken Chaos Remix has a kickass drum and bass blitzkrieg assault that catches one entirely by surprise.
Decomposition's only weak moment comes from the Karl Mohr Sundial Mix of I Believe. Very much reminiscent of Madonna's Ray of Light era, that is the lone compliment to this not-so-interesting maneuver, which sounds more like a simplistic exercise in remix basics that unfortunately drone.
Regardless, Decomposition features some brave and exceptional remixing, not your typical mishmash collection of retooled jams. Tamara and her mates in Minefield probably had no clue they'd written such complimentary songs that invited revolutionary invocations, yet what can best be said about Decomposition: Reinventing Minefield is that it's no run-of-the-mill obligator; it is artistic and flamboyant, what a remix album ought to be.
(1) Reviewed in Legends #141.
(2) Reviewed in Legends #126.