The second single from Dntel's debut album Life Is Full of Possibilities, "(This Is) the Dream of Evan and Chan," was without a doubt a great track. A blend of plaintive indie rock, jittery electro-noise, and sun-drenched pop, the song's perfectly balanced ingredients were cooked up by Jimmy Tambrello (aka Dntel) and Ben Gibbard, vocalist for college rock faves Death Cab for Cutie.
But when you love a song as much as many of us love this one, the notion of a remix is not unlike your boy- or girlfriend telling you they're off to get a tattoo: It can either be really cool or tragically stupid. This particular remix album offers a little bit of both.
Dntel's labelmate Safety Scissors takes the first crack at remixing it, and crack must've been what Safety Scissors was smoking, because he's gone and butchered the entire song. Replacing Gibbard's vocals with those of Erlend Øye (Kings of Convenience) and Dntel's caffeinated drum loops with a series of boring breaks, Safety Scissors manages to take a schizoid pop song and turn it into yet another innocuous IDM track. After all, the original "(This Is) ... " has an urgency to it that Gibbard's voice poignantly expresses.
Second remixer Barbara Morgenstern clearly understands this. Rather than replace Gibbard's vocals, she sings along, turning the song into a duet. Her conservative inclusion of bits and pieces of Dntel's original instrumentation serves to heighten the interplay between the two voices, resulting in a reconceived idea of the song that's powerful in a totally different way.
Superpitcher delivers the expected four-on-the-floor minimal techno remix. Next to the other tracks, this version is pretty staid, although DJs out there should take note because the song's chorus ("Ringing, ringing, ringing on ...") laid over a thumping beat will probably result in a dance floor full of E-popping indie rockers totally losing their shit.
Lali Puna offers up the fourth and final twist. Excising Gibbard's vocals once again, they go on to subdue everything exciting about the track to make way for some melody lines that harmonize with the chords from the original. This idea may have looked good on paper but the result is nothing more than a Muzak version of a once-cool song.
DJs and die-hard fans will find the Morgenstern and Superpitcher remixes absolutely essential. The other two versions are the equivalent of tattooing the words "Semper Fi" on your ass in Old English typeface. You had a nice ass. Why'd you have to ruin it like that? We're breaking up.
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