Anne Garner: Re-making The Pearl

Aided by Mark Davies (aka The Pylon King), Sheffield singer/songwriter and one-time member of The Screaming Trees Anne Garner is currently prepping her Making The Pearl album for release—which might make Re-making The Pearl the first time a remix collection has preceded the 'original.' Certainly the guest list bodes well, with Mixmaster Morris, Richard H. Kirk, Dean Honer, and Lackluster listed among the re-modelers.

Not having heard Garner's originals, one can only speculate upon the differences between the albums though one expects her singing will be more dominant on the other release, as here her voice is sometimes treated as an atmospheric element (Sub's “She Has” trip-hop mix) or as punctuation (Gocat's throbbing tech-house mix of “That Place”). The sound is haunting and dreamy throughout, with the emphasis on trip-hop, electro-soul (Richard H Kirk's “In Slumber”), and even soul-jazz (Ape To Tape's “Seeds”). The album's not wholly mellow, however; one listen to the volcanic roar of blistered guitar fuzz in Alan O'Boyle's Decal vs Human mix of “Home” offers more than enough proof of that. Lackluster's dubby electro style nicely draws out the melancholy stateliness of the ballad “Fools” while Mixmaster Morris's aptly christened 'Irresistible Force' mix transforms “Here Far Away” into a hypnotically soaring dance cut.

Four versions of “Home” might seem redundant on paper but there's next to no overlap between Honer's propulsive 6/8 treatment and Barry Murphy's 'Last Sound' overhaul where Garner's voice becomes a virtual murmur within a shuddering firestorm. Still, seventy-three minutes is a long haul, and some judicious trimming might've been considered; while there's nothing unappealing about Multiplex's “Home” mix, for example, it adds little new to the fifty minutes of material preceding it. And, truth be told, Garner's voice is sometimes the weakest element. An annoying quiver pervades her overly earnest delivery on Seán Quinn's “She Has,” a shame given how appealing the poppy treatment is otherwise, and there's an occasional bland quality to her voice that prevents it from realizing the full measure of the material's emotional potential. With the greater emphasis on Garner's guests, Re-making The Pearl may well be that rare instance where the re-mix collection impresses more than the album on which it's based.

January 2006