Fugazi Edits is an interesting proposition. It's a remix album featuring excerpts from every Fugazi song, it's entirely instrumental and it clocks in at just under 32 minutes long.
The chap behind the project, Chris Lawhorn, is an Indiana-based musician and DJ responsible for - by his own admission - 'a decade of disastrous tours and middling solo albums' during the Nineties. He's been putting this together for two years, so it's clearly a labour of love. It's also been given the seal of approval by Ian Mackaye, with all the proceeds going to charity, so it's for a good cause. But is it any good, or is it the kind of enterprise that will interest only the most diehard of Fugazi completists?
The answer is that this is definitely one for the Fugazi fans - even the casual ones. Depending on your knowledge of the band's discography, great fun can be had playing 'spot the segment'. Lawhorn's clearly put a lot of thought into his arrangements with some quite unexpected combinations which prove surprisingly effective. 'Floating Boy - Rend It - Downed City - The Argument', for example, turns the latter song's signature guitar line into an almost choral crescendo.
Lawhorn's not afraid to use the source material to enter experimental territory. Several songs draw heavily on Fugazi's quieter moments to create some dreamily ambient soundscapes, while others are brutally mangled into Squarepusher-esque glitchy madness.
Lawhorn also knows when to let the original songs breathe. After all, Fugazi write some big fucking riffs - think 'Epic Problem', 'Steady Diet of Nothing', 'Target' and 'Waiting Room'. Lawhorn is smart enough not to stifle these, building songs around them. Some rearrangements that work like this - 'Full Disclosure - Do You Like Me - Polish - Life and Limb' and 'Cassavetes - Latest Disgrace - Waiting Room - F-D' - almost feel as fresh and complete as the originals.
That said, the album isn't perfect. You almost feel like Lawhorn has made a rod for his own back by aiming to include every Fugazi song, and some tracks feel like they were compiled from the bits left over. Elsewhere, he's a little too quick to rely on distortion, as well as sudden stops and starts to get himself out of tricky mixes: these would be more effective if used more sparingly. I've also got a personal bone to pick with Lawhorn for practically burying the riff to 'Repeater'.
The bigger issue, though, is one that isn't Lawhorn's fault, something that also afflicted last year's Wugazi mashup album. When all's said and done, this is a remix album of music by a beloved band whose hiatus gets more and more indefinite by the day. Often, it just makes me long for a day - that is less and less likely to come - when Mackaye, Picciotto, Lally and Canty get back together to make more music together. No matter how good the rearrangement is, there's always going to be that shadow hanging over Fugazi Edits for me at least.
Still, that's no reason to dismiss this altogether - and in lieu of new Fugazi material, this is certainly a more-than-adequate substitute.
7Kev Eddy's Score