by Chris Familton
Nick Cave and co aren’t known for sending out their songs for remixes but in light of the band’s recent dissolution this is perhaps a loosening of the reins, an opening of arms to collaboration and reinterpretation of songs from their 2010 swansong LP Grinderman 2.
The first thing that catches the eye is the list of other artists that have contributed to the album. It is clear that Cave didn’t want to take the traditional route of electronic artists dissecting a song and creating a dancefloor-friendly or over intellectualised IDM version. Instead he has called on friends and contemporaries to add their flavour and sheen to Grinderman’s music. There are obvious compadres like Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Nick Zinner, ex-Bad Seed Barry Adamson and Andrew Weatherall but also some surprising guests in the form of Matt Berninger from The National and QOTSA’s Joshua Homme.
Some of the mixes are a comfortable fit with the ethos and approach of Grinderman. A Place to Bury Strangers hit the krautrock acid freak button and take Worm Tamer into a disorientating rush of guitars and pummeling drums, like Suicide hot wiring the space shuttle. Cat’s Eyes (feat. Faris Badwan of The Horrors) with Luke Tristram (ex-Flats) totally reshape When My Baby’s Comes into a slow moving drone haze that, when the drums and guitar destroy the funereal mood mid song it becomes an Earth-like doom metal dirge that sounds fantastic at high volume and is one of the highlights of the album through its sonic departure from the original.
Another highpoint is Barry Adamson’s treatment of Palaces of Montezuma which does well to highlight the vocals of both Cave and Warren Ellis. The song possesses such a great melodic hook and Adamson has chosen wisely to spotlight their voices. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the album is Matt Berninger’s take on Evil (listen below). He has concocted a Tricky/Massive Attack style of gloomy, slowed and stretched trip hop with his trademark weary vocals dropping in and out of the mix like a serenading afterthought. Like the Cat’s Eyes cover its success lies in its ability to take the song to an entirely different place.
The closest thing to a ‘dance’ remix is Andrew Weatherall’s electronic dub mix of Heathen Child which sounds like something from the On-U Sound stable. You can see what Weatherall’s intentions were but he would have been better served to go heavier on the dub elements of the song and really reduce it to its bare elements and twist and stretch them out in the echo chamber. Another take on the same song is Super Heathen Child with Cave securing the guitar services of King Crimson’s Robert Fripp who adds some stellar metallic soloing to the end of the song.
Grinderman conclude their RMX album with their own version of Evil (First Evil), the original demo version of the song to remind the listener that they too can twist their music into strange and uncomfortable positions. A remix album of a different sort then, more of a case of reinterpretations of which many prove just as rewarding as the originals. This in no way surpasses either of Grinderman’s albums but as a farewell companion piece it makes for fascinating listening.