Remix albums are almost reliably spotty affairs, dogged either by inconsistency or a lack of any real structure, a slog through a slurry of disparate reworks. But in the context of an album like Kevin Martin's 2009 King Midas Sound Waiting for You, a stunning record of low-frequency fever dreams immersed in the spirit of dub, it almost makes sense. That's why, even if it comes a lengthy two years later, Without You is a welcome event, a disc that's not so much a remix album as a dub version re-imagining the possibilities, contexts and frameworks of conventional "remixing" and reinterpretations. It's an album as much about "versioning" as it is about getting the hottest names of any given genre to put their own name-power stamp on the tracks, and the result is a vibrant collection that attests to the vitality of cross-genre electronic dance music right now, as well as the versatility and imagination of Martin's original material.
Kuedo sets the tone in appropriately out-there fashion with his neon fibreglass dubstep constructed on top of "Goodbye Girl," while Hype Williams provides a sunblind synth envisioning of "Sumtime" and Kode9 bunches up "Meltdown" into the needlepoint dance of his Black Sun material. The attempts to reach beyond typical Hyperdub-associated names are even more exciting: Mala makes the most of KMS' considerable dubstep potential with his punishing remix of "Earth A Kill Ya" while Gang Gang Dance put a playful circus-tent over the same track, a perfect microcosm of the record's stunning diversity. The most successful tracks are actually the riskiest: DeepChord Presents Echospace provides a fascinating deconstruction of "Goodbye Girl," suspending Kevin Martin's darting basslines in a dissolute dub techno fog, while Nite Jewel drapes "Lost" in her trademark woozy synths for the indubitable album highlight, something that sounds daringly different yet not at all incongruous.
One of the more interesting aspects of the album is the series of "revoices," an example of how the album caters more to a dub inspiration than anything else. Instead of remixing the tracks, vocalists replace the original vocal tracks with their own, leaving the instrumental intact. It doesn't always work—Joel Ford's childlike voice doesn't gel with the group's music—but when it does, the results are stunning, as Cooly G and dBridge's reverb-soaked takes rival the originals. Perhaps the biggest compliment one can pay to Without You is that over 15 remixes of a 13-song album it never feels like we're stuck with the same song over and over again, nor are we getting a thrown-together mixed bag of misfits. Much like its musical parent, Without You effortlessly inhales and exhales strands of musical influence past, present and future.
Buy King Midas Sound - Without You at
Tracklist: King Midas Sound - Without You 01. Goodbye Girl (Kuedo rework)
02. Without You (D-Bridge revoice)
03. Lost (Flying Lotus Rework)
04. Earth A Kill Ya (Gang Gang Dance Rework)
05. Tears (Kiki Hitomi Revoice)
06. Spin Me Around (Cooly G Revoice)
07. Goodbye Girl (Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe Rework)
08. Say Somethin' (Joel Ford Revoice)
09. Lost (Nite Jewel Rework)
10. Sumtime (Hype Williams Rework)
11. Meltdown (Kode 9/Spaceape Rework)
12. Earth A Kill Ya (Mala Rework)
13. Goodbye Girl (DeepChord presents Echospace Rework)
14. Come and Behold (Green Gartside revoice)
15. Cool Out (Ras G & the Afrikan Space Program Rework)