Of all the nu-rave/indie dance artists who've made a splash in the last year or so, Simian Mobile Disco have perhaps earned the most respect from wary house/techno audiences. Unlike their peers, SMD aren't just a band who added a drum machine or keyboard (New Young Pony Club, Klaxons) or generously borrowed from Daft Punk (Justice, Digitalism, the endless stream of Justice clones). And after a stint with the electronically-inclined band Simian, members Jas Shaw and James Ford are seasoned musicians well acquainted with songwriting and the hardware used on those tunes. These guys aren't just messing around, and it's plainly evident on their thoroughly composed debut album, Attack Decay Sustain Release, whose sound bounces between electro pop, nuevo acid house and blistering electro house with the twist of a knob or two. But in case cagey dance fans need more convincing, their latest single, 'I Believe', has been remixed by a bevy of hotly-tapped producers such as fidget-house mogul Switch, cosmic disco premier Prins Thomas, and up-and-coming dubstep artist Pinch.
The original version of 'I Believe' is a joyous, swaying pop song that showcases the blue-eyed soul vocals of ex-Simian and current Black Ghosts member Simon Lord. Dave "Switch" Taylor, whose production work for rapper M.I.A. has made for a big 2007, scraps the '90s-styled original instrumental completely for a more characteristic squirming house beat. Finely-chopped vocals dot the back of a bumpy rhythm, which occasionally drops its beat for a synth flare up, like a series of acidic burps that stop you in your tracks. But as a cockeyed keyboard vamp lazily slides up and down the scale it's quickly apparent the tune is too content fidgeting to actually get anywhere.
Track two is a dubstep revision from Tectonic Records head Pinch, who submerges the tune in an oily pool of sub-bass squiggles and understated hand drumming. About halfway through, some of Lord's vocals and the original's shiny tones peak through the murk, only to disappear again behind the bassline's shadow. Although some techno DJs have boldly included dubstep tunes in their sets, this abstract remix is unlikely to find its way into even the more adventurous DJs' crates (dubsteppers may disagree).
Remix-aholic and rock's go-to retoucher, Prins Thomas, heads up the flipside with another patented Diskomiks - the only cut that remains somewhat faithful to the original. Thomas bathes a tight little loop of the original in reverb until it's unrecognizable and adds the usual trappings of his mixes: digital claps, jingling percussion and a wide-mouth bass guitar line. If you can ignore how rushed the chorus sounds when paired with its new instrumental, Thomas' groovy version stands as the most dancefloor accessible of all of the remixes.
Closing out the 12" is a 2-step/garage version by heretofore unknown Joker. It's the shortest and poppiest of the bunch, but is no more memorable for it.
Overall, I find myself still craving Simian Mobile Disco's original more than any version here, which goes to show that when you're already a head above the rest of your peers, hiring them to make improvements can be a difficult task.
Buy Simian Mobile Disco - I Believe at
Tracklist: Simian Mobile Disco - I BelieveA1 I Believe (Switch Remix)
A2 I Believe (Pinch's 'I Believe In Bass Therapy' Remix)
B1 I Believe (Prins Thomas Diskotek Remix)
B2 I Believe (Joker Remix)
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