Words by Ed King, pics by Claire Belhassine & Simon Bierwald – courtesy of Denovali Records
If taken literally, the adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ would put the remix community out of business. Or at least some of them. But throwing your debut album out to the wolves on your own label is an arguably safer approach.
Piano Interrupted, aka Franz Kirmann and Tom Hodge, released The Unified Field in October 2013 through Denovali Records. A year and half later, The Unified Field Reconstructed is released – a reworking of seven out of the ten original tracks by some of their label mates. Now you can throw a stone at Denovali’s roster and hit someone worth attention; and with the source material coming from ‘a musical entity in continuous reinvention’ The Unified Field Reconstructed looks genuinely exciting.
And at points it certainly pays off, such as the perky, plucky, jangly Jazz remix of the album’s opening track – ‘Cross Hands’. The piano led original gets coated in a creative flourish from The Hidden Orchestra, that whilst honouring soundbytes and staccato from the first born also manages to make the Reconstructed an exuberantly funky affair.
Likewise, the uplifting keys that lead us through ‘Darkly Shining’ are replaced by a brooding movement of sound once John Lemke sinks his teeth in – transforming the delicately angelic original into a dangerous interloper. It reminds me of the fear I used to keep under the bed as a child; spectacular stuff.
But then there are moments where, perhaps, just maybe, things should have been left as they were. Which, you could argue, defeats the point of having remixes at all? But when your latest album is a reworking of your previous, you’re going to invite a more judgmental comparison.
Second Moon of Winter bring their haunting soprano to ‘Camera Obscura’, which sits beautifully on the waves of glitch and scratch, but we lose any of the ivory that made such a compelling original. Whilst Saffronkeria spends over a minute at the start of ‘Lost Coda’ going nowhere, and another seven and a half bringing not much more than an over itchy blanket to the picnic. And some have been sidestepped altogether, including (oddly) the title track ‘The Unified Field’ and one of the original highlights, ‘Path of Most Resistance’.
So avoiding purple prose; some swings, some misses, some hits. But I applaud the endeavour, and the outcome is definitely worth uploading to anything with earphones and walking round the park a few times.
There’s some significant talent at Denovali, with this and other recent releases (Bersarin Quartet, Poppy Ackroyd) showing the wealth of possibility coming out of the Bochum based imprint.
Tom Hodge and Franz Kirmann are both avant garde (in a good way) and exceptional at what they do, this is clear; The Unified Field was a strong debut that left a keen desire for more. I’m just not sure the reconstructed offering satisfies that.
So my advice, when holding a copy of The Unified Field in one hand and The Unified Field Reconstructed in the other, is just by both. Then pre-order album four which will be with us ‘later this year’.
The Unified Field Reconstructed by Piano Interrupted was released on 27th March through Denovali Records. For online purchase points, for this and other releases, visit http://denovali.com/mp3shop/
For more on Piano Interrupted, visit https://soundcloud.com/pianointerrupted
For more from Denovali, visit http://denovali.com/