M.A.N.D.Y. and Booka Shade first released their version of Laurie Anderson's electronic classic "O Superman" as part of 2007's Five Years Get Physical compilation. Despite cottoning on to a good idea, the first remix was definitely a water-from-wine sort of affair. Whereas Anderson's original is a delicate, personal, multi-faceted piece of music that grows softly and steadily to a lush and gorgeous crescendo, the two duo's version is notable only for managing to fill six minutes with no emotional content whatsoever. (The loving gentleness of Anderson was instead replaced by bouncy house that did nothing and said nothing, with a snippet of Anderson's original vocal slathered on top.) Unbowed, Get Physical have commissioned another six acts to pummel Anderson.
Leading off the first EP, Matt John turns in his least interesting track for some time. And possibly ever. This is a far cry from the "holographic music" that has been the goal towards which many of his recent productions have aimed. Rather, his take is a confusion of instincts, which blend both melodic complexity and big room earnestness. Instead of releasing a Matt John record on Get Physical, John has tried to adapt his style to the Get Physical aesthetic, and the result is ungainly before even considering the fate of the original material caught in the crossfire.
The "original" (i.e. the M.A.N.D.Y. and Booka Shade version) comes second and, true to its name, is identical to the one on the GP comp discussed above. Closing out the release is the 14-minute Reboot effort. There is an organic feel, ushered in by fleet percussion including plenty of handclaps, eventually backed up by a growling bassline. In short, this track would feel right at home on Reboot's frequent home, Cadenza. The Frankfurt-based producer has the courage to sample Anderson's vocal much more extensively, meaning the remix is rich and adventurous, at least, and the climax has a hint of lushness. Whether or not your tastes run in the same direction as Cadenza at the moment will determine whether you like it, but Reboot has at least shown sympathy for the source material, rather than hatred.
On the second EP, the always discrete Audiofly X start things off quietly with a fairly sensitive track that eeks from its rollicking, polished electro house surfaces something of the trance-esque subtlety which works well, at least until the peal of bells that announces the beginning of the end after five minutes, and which make me think of Quasimodo rather than beautiful church music. Tragic hero Felix Da Housecat steps up next, and proves yet again that he is now more like a bloated old alley cat that lives behind a dumpster. His mix is cheesy strings, á la Tiesto, over an incongruous jacking beat. If M.A.N.D.Y.'s version is water-from-wine, Felix's is closer to sewage-from-champagne. Robag Wruhme's is the closing contribution. He gives us six minutes of indifferent, glitchy minimal with a few random smooth jazz piano chords at the end.
If all this seems a bit harsh, I will confess that I am an out-and-out Laurie Anderson partisan; all of these guys meddling with her music was probably never going to elicit much more than jealous bitterness from me. Call that full disclosure. Still, we all know that Get Physical are capable of great things, and this isn't one of them.
Buy M.A.N.D.Y. vs. Booka Shade - O Superman Remixes at
Tracklist: M.A.N.D.Y. vs. Booka Shade - O Superman RemixesGPM098.1
A1 O Superman (Matt John Remix)
A2 O Superman (Original)
B O Superman (Reboot's 20 Cubans Rework)
A O Superman (Audiofly X Remix)
B1 O Superman (Felix Da Housecat Remix)
B2 O Superman (Robag's Pumper-Nikel Rmks)
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