Blamstrain: Blamstrain Remixed

This isn't the first time Merck has issued an entire album dedicated to remixes of a single artist's work (Ilkae's Bovine Rearrangement springs to mind as a recent example) but it would be hard to imagine one with a greater unanimity of sound than Blamstrain Remixed. While there are clear differences between the collection's eleven offerings, they're all wholly and unapologetically synthetic, collectively beamed down from some blissful, electro-synth galaxy to our collective good fortune.

Needless to say, what one loses in the dominance of Blamstrain's (aka Finland's Juho Hietala) voice, one gains in the riches proffered by simpatico contributors. The album's analog emphasis is affirmed immediately by Mesak's (Tatu Metsätähti) bright electro waves and pumping drum machine beats, a style that re-emerges in Proem's (Richard Bailey) chugging mix and Lackluster's (Esa Juhani Ruoho) jittery electro-dub. Funckarma (brothers Don and Roel Funcken) fashions a funkier minimal groove while Taho's mix sashays through a forest of Arabian flickers and ghostly chatter before entering dense thickets of hazy smears. Others adopt a quieter approach, as heard in Mosaik's twilight treatment and Isan's (Antony Ryan and Robin Saville) sparkling oasis.

Interestingly, the album takes a dramatic stylistic detour in its final three tracks, all of which conspicuously depart from the electro template. Syndrone's (Travis Stewart) is strikingly anomalous, a manic tech-house outing peppered with frog-like voice snippets and blurry rumbles. No Xivic (Henkka Kyllönen) contributes an epic drone of phantom moans and hazy piano shimmer while Blamstrain himself closes the album with a lush, at times crushing setting of hazy washes and dark tones. There's not a weak moment in this accomplished lot, and Blamstrain Remixed ably meets Merck's usual high standard.

May 2005