Radio Slave: Works. Selected Remixes 2006 - 2010

If there's one thing this massive three-disc collection of remixes makes clear, it's that Matt Edwards (aka Radio Slave) doesn't believe in rushing things. Consider: the release's twenty-two tracks total 232 minutes, making the average cut a little over ten minutes in length. So anyone intending to take in the release in a single setting better get comfortable ‘cos the ride is long. It's also, however, exceptionally scenic, due to the varying nature of the artists' work featured and the suave touch Edwards brings to his invigorating overhauls. Take the re-imagining of Mlle Caro & Franck Garcia's “Dead Souls” as a case in point. Whereas the original is a standard-length dance pop song, Edwards recasts it as an eleven-minute saga that ever-so-slowly builds in tension. After animating the original's vocals with an insistent tick-tock pulse, Edwards lets synth washes seep in to boost the tune's cosmic vibe without diminishing its thumping bass groove.

Each of the three discs has its own share of highlights. On the first disc (which features a number of makeovers of vocal-based tracks), Ian Astbury, The Cult's frontman, brings a suitably dramatic performance to UNKLE's “Burn My Shadow” (especially during the “And burn my shadow away” refrain), while Edwards gives the song his own inimitable touch by powering it with an unstoppable thump. Draped in sheets of synthetic radiance and propeled by an unflagging pulse, Slam's heavily synthesized “Azure” plays like a smooth glide through the most distant of galaxies, while “Play To Win” by K3 (featuring Alice Lascelles) oozes a gothic decadence entirely in keeping with Edwards' current Berlin home base. “Moan” is also memorable, in large part due to the female vocal that gives Trentemøller's graceful track such sensual allure.

Disc two brings out the grittier and rather clubbier side of Radio Slave's remix world, as exemplified by Peace Division's aptly titled “Blacklight Sleaze,” which oozes underground character in its trippy weave of voice fragments and overall grime, and Len Faki's clockwork minimal house strutter “My Black Sheep.” The menacing space-club thump of Mr. G's “E.C.G.'ed” is more what one would expect from a Radio Slave remix set, in contrast to Yam Who?'s effervescent “Go Bang,” which moves the collection into a surprisingly percussion-heavy jazz-funk zone that during the electric piano episodes in particular is reminiscent of a Wayne Shorter-less Weather Report in jamming mode.

The final disc presents eight “Panorama Garage” remixes of tracks by Minilogue, Mr. G, Nelski, and others, many of them stripped-down, late-night affairs. A textbook example of slow-build, Le Noir's “Eleny” bolts from the gate with a charging house pulse before gradually broadening out with the addition of melancholy string figures, while Matt O'Brien's “Serotone” opts for lysergically laced foreboding and Chicken Lips' “Motion Sickness” ends the trip with a jolt of synth radiance and syncopated swing. But to be frank, while my response to it might be due to some degree of exhaustion setting in, I find the third to be the least engrossing of the three discs, an impression also perhaps attributable to it being the one wholly free of vocals.

Throughout the collection, Edwards' remix signature is consistently identifiable, as a customary makeover develops patiently and with an assurance and logical rigour that's neat and tidy yet not bereft of energy and spirit. Rarely, if ever, does one hear an ill-conceived move or ill-considered moment in Edwards' mixes, and the passenger's confidence in the pilot's skills is never shaken. The sole low point comes at the end of disc two in “The DJ,” which is spoiled by the execrable vocal contribution P. Diddy makes to Hell's otherwise credible cut; one even begins to suspect that maybe Edwards feels the same, given how severely he mangles and shreds Diddy's voice before removing it altogether. Long-time supporters of Edwards' work might know that the one-time Brighton-based producer has also issued material under other aliases, including Quiet Village and The Machine, and with James Masters manages Rekids. Edwards also isn't afraid to swim in populist waters when it comes to remix duty, as makeovers for Talking Heads, Kylie Minogue, Gwen Stefani, and Elton John also dot his CV, but thankfully the remix set steers clear of such mainstream artists.

December 2011