Grizzly Bear
Horn of Plenty Remixes
2005
B+



if Grizzly Bear’s tousled folk debut Horn of Plenty was the distillation of waking up in hangover grace, brittle of movement and thought, this remix record is the cure that restarts the friction in your life and a motion back towards frenzy. Edward Droste and his lo-fi assembly of friends turned out their debut late last year on Kanine Records, and they struck a chord with their charmingly husky DIY aesthetic and whispered sense of melody. Here though, they’ve enlisted the talents of popular remixers and strangers alike. They opened their vaults to the scatterbrained dissection of Dntel, Drew Daniel’s Soft Pink Truth moniker, and Ariel Pink as well as lesser knowns as The Bomarr Monk, Phillip, and Son. Promisingly, the results, if perhaps no improvement on the source material, stand neck and neck with Grizzly Bear’s debut, a choice between revelry and contemplation and a no-lose distinction.

On the meatier side of the plate, the beatsmiths rule the record’s first two-thirds. Dntel turns “Merge”’s dim acoustic lament into an astral stumble, chugging a forty’s worth of froth in just under the time it takes for his synths to catch up with Droste’s treated, repetitive phrasings. On one of the record’s highlights, Soft Pink Truth papercuts “A Good Place” into a propulsive dancefloor jam, using his trademarked digi-shankery to contort the original’s underwater ambience into something far juicier. Likewise, Safety Scissors takes one of the Grizzly Bear’s most gorgeous fireside laments, “La Duchess Anne,” and brings its gothic chill a bubbling sense of the modern, a memory of haunt and mist now-lit by strobe and halogen.

As for the more ethereal treatments, under the guidance of The Double’s Dr. Cuerpo, “This Song” goes from an acoustic-guitar paean to a pocket symphony to distortion worthy of Fennesz or Keith Fullerton Whitman. Ariel Pink tweaks one of Horn of Plenty’s few beat-featuring cuts, “Disappearing Act”—if you can call that distant military roll a beat—into the sound of rolling static seas and a mourner’s voice buried in soil. It’s the rare example of this remix disc bringing calm to the angst and tumor of the original. Castanets also fares well, filtering out Droste’s vocals to leave only the acoustic layering and pulpy static.

In a year that’s witnessed more than its share of full-album remix projects—from DFA 79 (ugh) to Bloc Party (eh) to Beck (almost--how’s that for succinct reviewing)—Horn of Plenty Remixes is far and away the most fascinating, though it’s not a track-by-track revisioning. Unlike many of the aforementioned, it can stand on its own as virgin creation, without a body to reveal its odd Turin-shroud coloring. Just make sure you’re in the right place at the wrong time, and this disc will give your life new weight after the wake. As Richard Simmons once said, let’s dance.

Buy it at Insound!


Reviewed by: Derek Miller
Reviewed on: 2005-12-16
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