The quandary that always arises when it comes to the reviewing of a full-length album of music intended for the dancefloor, is how well it can be appreciated coming from the speakers of a bedroom hi-fi or, if on the move, headphones. Those artists coming from a dance, or 'electro' (which could mean a million things really) background, who release albums that people want to listen to from start to finish are typically those who abandon that form altogether such as James Blake, or those who straddle a line between the sounds, textures and pathos of the dance and rock worlds such as James Murphy. Despite doing precisely that by embellishing their original material with punk-rock guitars and live drums in their 'Death Crew 77' live tour last year, The Bloody Beetroots have now decided now was the time to release an 18-track album of their own 'best' remixes, which if it wasn't for their recent rockist posturing would seem an entirely incongruous act for such an ostensibly subversive group, what with their mystique engendering venom masks.
The first question is simply: Why? I mean, don't blogs exist for this kind of thing? Indeed just about every track here is available via the Hype Machine. It would take a real Bloody Beetroots devotee (or some form of self-medication) to give this whole record their undivided attention from start to finish. It's not likely that they will find their consumers within the dance community either. Any DJ likely to drop any of these remixes into a set will no doubt already own them and club scenes move so fast it's doubtful whether they would even want to.
However, it would churlish to suggest that because the record itself feels somewhat inessential that the music within is not worthy of your time. Naturally, being a remix record it helps if the source material is good to begin with, but it also presents an opportunity to improve on other artists weaker efforts. The very presence of Shitdisco and The Whip rather dates the disc, but remixes of their '72 Virgins' and 'Muzzle No.1' respectively are prime examples of the The Bloody Beetroots taking below par dance-rock and beating it into a shape fit for the dancefloor; both tracks get their sub-Klaxons distorted basslines replaced with synth-bass which is actually worthy of the description bass and in the process The Whip get beefed up into something vaguely resembling Nine Inch Nails; in other words a drastic improvement. Shitdisco are actually given more pathos by way of relocating the chorus lines “Do what you want with me” to the intro and surrounding it in pretty gauzy synths, while the stuttering and lean verses are infinitely more danceable.
The Bloody Beetroots' defining characteristic as remixers appears to be their propensity for simply beefing the existing tracks and embellishing them with the odd vocal manipulation and other tricks. The creation of builds up through frequency cut-offs leading to beat-drops is a common and rather clichéd trait here, but there's no doubt that their remixes of Sound of Stereo's 'Heads Up!' and Etienne de Crecy's 'Funk' would sound perfect in a club. U-God's 'Stomp Da Roach' is the best example of The Bloody Beetroots transmuting a song into a dancefloor track whilst bringing out something new in it; by replacing the swooning descent of the string section from the original with staccato stabs of strings the original song's mood is retained while the little rhythmic tweaks give the Wu-Tang man's flow a more aggressive tone.
For these worthwhile mixes, however, there are a large number which sound almost indistinguishable from the originals. Inevitably this isn't such a problem when the original is as good as Robyn's lean and taut 'Cobrastyle' or the the gargling and glistening arpeggios of Vitalic's 'Second Lives', but it is a problem with characterless tracks by Proxy, The Toxic Avenger and The Aston Shuffle. Then there's the downright awful. The passable electro-trash of 'Baseball Bat' by Herve ft. Marina Gasolina is compressed so much it sounds like a texture-less thud of a dud; the sort of thing Pendulum might release. Despite their best efforts on 'Pistols and Hearts', nobody could remodel anything of merit out of the dire Kooks-soundalikes Captain Phoenix. Despite the presence of a few genuinely excellent remixes, the overall quality rarely transcends the status of 'pretty average' and points are lost for the all round pointlessness of the record.
5Neil Ashman's Score