Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Workout Wednesday: 144 BPM (Hoedown Throwdown)

(What is Workout Wednesday?)

Cowboy up, y’all. This week, it’s mash-ups, cut-ups, fuck-ups and delusions of banjer, all for your treadmill and elliptical-training pleasure.

144 bpm 2: Hoedown Throwdown
Human After All (the Juan MacLean remix) – Daft Punk
Cotton-Eyed Joe / Don’t Be Stupid mashup – Rednex vs. Shania Twain
Flashing For Money (Sultan Club Mix) – Deep Dish vs. Dire Straits
We Can Be Brave Again (remix) – The Armoury Show
Swamp Thing (remix) – The Grid
Whirl-y-Reel 1Afro Celt Sound System
(cooldown) Thing Of BeautyHot House Flowers

A couple of notes:

I didn’t get the name of the remixer responsible for the Shania-Rednex mash-up, but it is a source of both delight and frustration for me. The wit and verve of the mix is obvious, and it’s propulsive as hell; but the beat-count is all over the place. It only sounds metronomic—the pulse is strong, but it’s inconsistent, dropping down in some sections from 144 to below 140. That may not matter on the dancefloor, but when you’re trying to maintain a constant heartrate, it’s kind of irritating. And frankly, my editing skills are not such that I can easily go through and identify and / or fix all the individual sections. It’s already been jacked up substantially, from 128 bpm, and I’m loath to monkey with it more.

The Deep Dish track is also pretty cranked. I know nothing about this band, and I’ve never heard their original track, but I love this mix for the utterly shameless rockin’ out moment when the source of that naggingly-familiar guitar sample is forcibly made clear. It’s a one-joke song, but it’s a hell of a joke.

Hey, remember 80s-style remixes? My source mp3 for the Armoury Show track sounds like it was ripped straight from the vinyl 12-inch. I always liked remixes like this, where rock bands get a sort of half-assed dancefloor treatment; for thickly-produced, guitar-dense bands like this, the remixes tended to be deconstructions of the album versions, isolating the individual guitar lines—which was a godsend for guitarists like myself who were trying to learn the parts and battling ear fatigue from trying to follow an individual instrument through three or four interlocking overlays. To keep the pulse constant, I did a tiny bit of further editing on this track, taking out three or four seconds where it breaks down to the single acoustic guitar.

This will be the last Armoury Show track for a while, by the way. You may be relieved. Some people? Not such big fans. Of course, Jobson’s a filmmaker now, so you can hate on him in a whole new medium. Myself, I’m kinda curious to see his Kung Fu & Skateboards remake of The Warriors, starring The Hobbit From Lost, but also kinda not.

Afro Celt Sound System are, to my ears, just about the most successful world music fusion project of any I’ve heard. Rather than simply graft traditional melodies onto a pop structure in a cross-over oriented way—you know: Scottish fiddle with a trip-hop beat, Finnish vocals with a trip-hop beat, French cabaret with a trip-hop beat—they went back to first principles, building something that had elements of Afropop, ceilídh bands, and dance music right in its DNA, something sui generis, with a unique and instantly-recognizable aesthetic and a hybrid vigor. It feels right and it feels real: it’s the difference between a mixed-race child and a white kid in blackface.

And musically, it can be thrilling: there’s about a minute at the end of this song where there’s a Celtic harp trading fours with a West African kora, and it’s a minute that crackles with tension and beauty.

And hey! You can line dance to it!

[ MP3 expired - so sorry ]

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