It’s not an easy thing, calling yourself Remix Artist Collective. Over the last few years, the remix has graduated from the instrumental/vocal cut that used to come on your $4 single to something which more closely resembles an art form of its own. The remix is no longer an addition to the core offering that is the song but in some instances, outstrips the original to become the more memorable, powerful and renowned of the two. But the remix is a delicate thing. As much as every track and his dog gets a remix/remode/rejig these days, the number of successful remixes, those that actually advance the message of the original or better still, bring something new and inspiring to the table, must be steadily declining as a proportion of the total number of rethinks out there. The remix, in musical terms, has become something like a social media presence for the multinational: it’s something every artist is sure they need and will pull out all stops to get but often blows as peripheral marketing material. All too often, the remix is a ‘we had to put this out there to make up numbers on the deluxe edition’ statement.
It was therefore with not inconsiderable scepticism that I approached last night’s RAC show in Philadelphia. While the trio – Andrew Maury, Karl Kling, Andre Anjos from Brooklyn, Portland, Portland respectively – have put out an original track featuring Penguin Prison, the Strokes-ian ‘‘ as well as putting together a killer end-of-year mix for Hype Machine, the bulk of their workload since forming in 2007 has come from remixes for Phoenix, Bloc Party, Washed Out and Surfer Blood. The varied client list is an indication to me that RAC have something very valuable when it comes to remixing in reserve: discretion. Every remix artist would like to rehash every Phoenix song ever produced as that French band continues its ridiculously popular run off the back of 2009′s ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’ all the way to a headliner slot at Coachella this year but the material doesn’t always lend itself to new spins. RAC’s work across genres and with lesser known tracks from Phantogram and Delorean suggests they’re not just in it for the cash or the kudos.
The Temper Trap’s ‘Sweet Disposition’ is not one such low-key choice. The track, from 2009′s ‘Conditions’ was a massive hit for the band and, after achieving ubiquitous status by being featured on every significant TV drama finale, was pretty much inescapable for a good year or two. To take on a track that has been so obviously imprinted in the collective conscious and change it up requires some serious confidence. When a track becomes so omnipresent, an inevitable byproduct is that its chord progressions, vocal ticks, verse-chorus structure become expected. To mess with the anticipation of the masses by adding some funky disco synths, a four-to-the-floor drumbeat and chopping up Dougy Mandagi’s vocals in the mix is to put yourself at a real disadvantage from the outset. Across a 2.5 hour set last night, RAC’s Andre and Karl proved that they have overcome the stigma attached to the remix (and thus their brand) not only with this nuanced track but with their live show too. It might not have the same pretty quality as the original but RAC’s remix is a sweet proposition nevertheless.
The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition (RAC Remix)