City of Satellites: Remixed
Hidden Shoal

City of Satellites' Remixed manages the difficult feat of retaining enough of the originating artist's persona to give the collection cohesiveness whilst also providing sufficient room for the remixers to leave their individual imprints on their respective tracks—a balancing act not always accomplished as well as it is here. The band itself is Australian duo Jarrod Manuel (vocals, guitars, synthesizers) and Thomas Diakomichalis (drums, synthesizers, programming) who, despite being geographically split between Adelaide and Sydney, traffic in a supple blend of classic shoegaze and dreampop that's effectively showcased on their debut EP The Spook and album Machine Is My Animal. Now tracks from both releases get the remix treatment at the hands of Manual, Syntaks, Tim Koch, Slow Dancing Society, and others.

Tin Manzano eases the listener in gently with a richly detailed “Machine Is My Animal” makeover that complements a downtempo funk pulse with electric guitar shadings, subliminal vocal exhalations, and assorted other atmospheric touches. The slo-mo treatment carries over into the second track, “Victor! Burn City Lights,” though Syntaks amplifies the chillwave quotient in a radiant rework of the original. The tempo picks up for M-13's electro-powered “Stranger Than Fiction,” which introduces a funkier feel in the cut's syncopated throb. M-13's more aggressive handling of the material works especially well in bolstering the original's strong vocal hooks with a fiery synth-bass thrust and claps. Slow Dancing Society's handling of “Moon In The Sea” is as dream-like as one would expect, as Drew Sullivan exploits the original's capacity for scene-painting and City of Satellites' appetite for ‘80s-styled production values (in the heavy electronic drum sounds and epic ballad style). Tim Koch turns “BMX” into a trippy swirl of loping drums, guitar shudder, and light-streaming synthetics that restlessly moves between shuffle and stutter-funk rhythms. Heading home, Jatun's “Control” roars off into the shoegaze stratosphere, while Jonas Munk does much the same albeit at a slightly slower speed in his Manual makeover of “Skeletons.”

As the set comes to an end, it becomes increasingly clear that it's vocals that act as a key unifier in the project, with the consistent vocal sound connecting the dots between treatments that are often dramatically contrasting (consider the differences between the remixes by Slow Dancing Society and Jatun, for example). It's a holdover release, of course, something to tie City of Satellites' fans over until the next set of originals appears, but it's an engaging and enjoyable set nonetheless.

January 2012