Monolake: Plumbicon Versions

Remixes are problematic beasts: adhere too closely to the original and a new version appears pointless; deviate too dramatically and the necessary connection to the original is rendered too tenuous. The five remixes (four previously issued on vinyl) comprising Monolake's Plumbicon Versions offer a compelling solution to the dilemma: the variations offer radically different stylistic takes yet the recurring presence of the original's dark theme within each helps unify them.

Monolake's chief architect Robert Henke frames the disc with two interpretations, the first a live May 2005 mix recorded at the Nikko Hotel in Osaka and the second recorded in Berlin during winter 2005. The live rendition (Henke accompanied by T++) comes closest to the Polygon_Cities original, though its thunderous punch is smoothened out and the piece transformed from a rampaging hippo into a lithe jaguar. An almost Latinized percussion pattern accompanies the dubby flow of keyboard accents and propulsive flow as the core melody repeatedly erupts at the song's center. The concluding mix is a more ponderous and languorous take, rather like sleep patterns given vivid sonic, ten-minute life.

Each guest pursues a different path. Kin to Monolake's second version, Rebreather's (Tobias Enhus and Andrew Phillpott) exchanges the original's aggressive drive for mournful ambient styling, with the duo slowing the theme and exploiting its sweeping, ultra-dramatic potential. Scott Monteith's Deadbeat mix broils delectably, much like his own deeply textured dub material, and lunges into gear two minutes in with the advent of dancehall rhythms. Sleeparchive (Roger Semsroth aka Skanfrom) layers sonar bleeps and an occasional voice interjection over a locomotive chug in a skeletal yet distinctly robotic take that becomes progressively more house-flavoured over its nine-minute duration.

Ultimately, Plumbicon Versions feels like a less substantial Monolake release but that's not surprising, given that it's a mini-album (more like a generous EP) designed to tide listeners over until the next full-length. Still, given the 40-minute running time, there's no reason why Polygon_Cities' “Plumbicon” original couldn't have been included. Positioning it at the beginning would have provided an illuminating reference point for the five treatments, even though the Osaka mix would have been rendered somewhat superfluous as a result.

August 2006