Quick backstory: in 1983, Cluster's Dieter Moebius, Guru Guru's Manfred Neumeier and Kraftwerk producer Conny Plank collaborated on Zero Set, an album of squawky, skronky oscillations and powerful funk drumming that still sounds ahead of its time. (The closest contemporary equivalent might be Battles.) In 2007, Moebius and Neumeier recorded Zero Set II in tribute to Plank, who passed away in 1987.
Villalobos' rework, as well as a pair of mixes from Prins Thomas, released on a second 12-inch, draw upon the material from these sessions. Unfortunately, it's hard to compare the remixes to the original release: Zero Set remains in print, but the sequel seems unavailable, at least outside Japan.
Villalobos' contribution is a 33-minute remix that's been divided in two and spread across two sides of vinyl. In a way that's fitting, because this is surely going to be a divisive remix. For fans of his more hypnotic work, the extended percussive jam will probably hit the spot—or at least provide a soundtrack for spelunking in K-holes—as rippling ride cymbals and skillet-spatter beats flutter against the kind of digitalist improv you might expect from an Editions Mego release. Listeners requiring more insistent beats, arresting riffs or discernible structure may well dismiss it as self-indulgent noodling. The second part is weightier than the first, but neither is going to satisfy many peak-time urges. No matter which camp you fall in, it's hard not to be annoyed by the incessant "One, two, three" that's replayed over and over, which faintly recalls Bill Murray's role in Groundhog's Day, had his character been a bandleader instead of a weatherman.
Like Villalobos, Prins Thomas stays in character with both his versions. Spoiler alert: they're pretty Kraut-rocky, with ropy basslines, copious tom fills and cymbal splash, and a "live," played-not-programmed feel. The five-minute version is the more restrained of the two, with a demure acid burble tangled up with bluesy guitar riffs and lots of resonant filter gleam; the ten-minute version on the B-side digs in for the long haul with extended synth soloing and a heavier, crisper drum groove. Does it jam? Hell yeah. Both Villalobos and Thomas have turned out fitting tributes to Moebius, Neumeier and Plank, without whom both producers would undoubtedly be very different musicians. Stylistically, though, neither is likely to blow you away. A riskier, but more fitting, homage would have put the Chilean and the Norwegian in the same room and let the tape roll, come what may.