Tim Shiel is probably the coolest dude we’ve ever met on the Internet. Ever since he found us on Twitter to clarify that he’d nicked the best parts of his ‘Coming Back’ remix from Liquid Liquid, we’ve had a certain affinity with the Melbourne-based, globe-trotting whizkid better known to the heads as Faux Pas. Shiel is a man of innumerable talents; he fills in with a brilliant radio show on Melbourne’s community radio staple, 3RRR at like, 1am on weeknights, remixes bands so esoteric and awesome that we usually only find out who they are by going backwards from the edits and is a member of the touring band for his world-beating mate Wally De Backer, which currently means he’s hanging somewhere in South Korea or something. I do not know how the man gets any shut-eye whatsoever with all of these shenanigans, but somehow he’s managed to amass a swag of excellent reworkings of his favourite artists over the past five years and this week releases them as an album. This includes indie champion locals like Pikelet, Caitlin Park and that song that we used to know, but also some more left-of-centre offerings like Rat vs Possum and today’s star, Super Melody. As it stands, Shiel could sit in front of his computer long enough to make the drone of a million wasps sound attractive, so the fact that he’s working with solid source material already boded well. That, added to the fact that we’re pretty confident in his strike rate means that you should all go listen to ‘Remixes’ in full right now. Actually scrap that. Right after this song.
Super Melody, for those who are like me and therefore not really in the know about the inner-workings of the Melbourne electronic scene, is actually the sound of someone quite familiar. James Cecil was the drummer and backing vocalist for shimmering pop revivalists Architecture In Helsinki up until their last record, which means he’s the one you hear on hits like ‘Debbie’ and ‘That Beep’. Having pulled out of the band on New Year’s Eve 2008/9, he started his own project and took all that awesome weirdness of AiH into a new realm. ‘Worker Bee’, which sounds like a more hair-ballad ’80s version of what he did in his old band, and is pretty conventional in its instrumentation and, you know, multi-tracked guitar licks. By the time Faux Pas got his hands on it, it ended up warping into this cool electronic freakout where everything but the melody was stripped away and replaced with kick-drum triggers full of bass voices.
I’ve always maintained that my policy on remixing is if you’re not going to bring something entirely new to the table, given that we already know how the song goes, don’t bother. It’s why I loved New Look’s stripped rework of Janet Jackson, and why I’ll happily listen to mostly anything Jamie xx does, because the cover, so to speak, often surpasses the original. Having followed his career since 2008, I have absolutely no qualms putting Faux Pas in this category. Just having the guy in my Facebook feed has taught me more about keyboards and computer plugins than I ever could have expected to gain from going to some music college. Besides, his intensely amazing original compositions (get your hands on Noiseworks if you haven’t already) seals the deal. It’s clear that Gotye doesn’t settle for anything less than the best in quality, which explains why Shiel spends so much time on the road with him. The way he’s blown apart ‘Worker Bee’ and reshaped it into something darker, more seductive and ultimately more listenable is a testament to his rare skill to be able to hear and compose a different trajectory to the one we’re used to travelling on. That takes a master of invention, and whether it’s the sudden drop into acoustic guitars from the addictive bass a Capellas or the sparkling synth flourishes that emerge during repeats of sections, it’s clear that Australia has one sitting on its doorstep.
Super Melody – ‘Worker Bee’ (Faux Pas Remix)