Shooting stars and astral choirs, summer flutes and sitars.
This is my dream-pop jukebox of songs I’ve remixed just for fun.
Thea – Goldfrapp (Devious Corporation Totem Mix)
This is one of the stand out tracks from Goldfrapp’s Tales of Us album, remixed by me, rocking the tribal flavour and adding a few angry mobs here and there. Sit back and grab a burning torch – it’s Thea, the Totem mix!
It Overtakes Me – The Flaming lips (Slow Lane Mix)
It’s a huge cosmic sigh, the sound of a man staring into space trying to make sense of it all, and also the sound of me in the bath (stop laughing please, this is serious) imagining new layers for a stark track which needed some starlight. Originally the second half of the single It Overtakes Me, which you may remember from the famous beer commercial (Beck’s 4-Step), The Stars are so Big…I am so Small…Do I Stand a Chance? was the celestial second act which contrasted so much with it’s brother. I took the acoustic guitar from the end and built the whole track around it, taking samples of vocal and making them echo in the style of 10cc’s I’m Not in Love. I also played the flute over most of the song, resulting in richer, warmer layers of sound. As far as I know, I’m the only person to remix this track.
Don’t Cry It’s Only The Rhythm – Grace Jones (Sparky’s Grace Replaced Mix)
I fell in love for the first time to this one! It’s true. My heart was pounding and all I could hear was this weird banjo sound hopping from one speaker to another. It was an instrumental from the Slave to the Rhythm album, and it suddenly dawned on me that I could sample vocals from all over the album and put them together in my favourite track. I also added an orchestral section which had a Tubular Bells flavour. I don’t know why Trevor Horn didn’t include these vocals because they fit so well. Video now available here.
Black Siren – Goldfrapp vs This Mortal Coil (Sparky’s Mash-up)
It was an accident, finding how well these two songs go together. I was making a compilation tape and as Black Cherry ended, Song to the Siren began. Within minutes I was mixing them together using the most primitive software I could find. Elizabeth Fraser was used sparingly as a backing vocal, allowing space for the vast emptiness of Black Cherry, until they build to a crescendo which compliments the main song. It’s quite hard to take two starkly beautiful songs like this and make them work together without ending up with Ballad Soup.
Photograph – Air (Sparky’s View From Space Mix)
A star in the heavens, leaving a mere mortal behind on Earth with nothing more than official merchandise. On the surface, wise regard. Underneath, smouldering resentment. Love it. The original version of Photograph by Air is a great, enveloping sea of unease: bitterness rendered with astral beauty. To me, the whole song is one huge disconnect, The line ‘as if you were all sweetness and light,’ could have been written about any star, particularly the toxic Mr. Dean, so I put him on the cover. As a fourteen year-old boy I could face hell and high hormones as long as his poster was gazing down at me from my bedroom wall. I forgot how much shows in those eyes.
As usual, I added the sounds I thought were missing from the original. I started with a spectral choir, slow-burning to a crescendo, and in the middle eight, an astronaut floats in the vacuum, talking on his radio. Along the way, you can hear the distant sound of shooting stars and at the end, a Polaroid camera spits out the evidence.
Winter Wonderland – Goldfrapp (Sparky Mix)
Produced for a Starbucks compilation CD, the original version of Winter Wonderland sounded a bit thin and watery. Apart from a big bad double-bass bouncing all over the place, I added a choir, bells and big drums. Tinkerbell meets Slade. A change from my usual dream-pop, this was fun to do and I’m quite proud of it. There is also extra whistling and a quote from It’s a Wonderful Life at the end. I think it’s Animal from The Muppets on drums… + + UPDATE + + Watch the video here + +
Beach House – Mark Wallis
Down to the beach this time with my own composition which features flutes and sitars in a sunny sixties vibe. You can hear Mrs Madrigal and Mother Mucca from Tales of the City laughing at the seagulls and there’s a psychedelic backwards interlude in the style of The Summer of Love. It’s childhood memories of balmy carefree days on the beach in Norfolk in the early seventies, listening to my hipster cousins grooving to the radio. The song was thrown together very quickly for work, but it seemed to catch people’s imagination, so I remixed it with luxurious slide guitars and Tibetan finger bells. There’s even a dash of house piano. You have to know when to stop…
Cologne Cerrone Houdini – Goldfrapp (Sparky’s Disco Trip Mix)
Sophisticated seventies super pop, from the psychedelic masterpiece Seventh Tree, this is a track which sounds like it comes from a polished world of string sections and synthesisers which never existed. Even Abba couldn’t quite produce such glacial perfection. Nobody ever attempted to remix this track, so I had to jump in. I emphasised the more sixties folk elements and inserted an interview from Alison Goldfrapp’s Bucolic Period.. While the main track features a vocal Dietrich would be proud of, the introduction starts with Alison rolling in the long grass giggling as the music begins backwards and rolls lazily into itself. One of my more freewheeling mixes, with the main vocals reduced to distant whispers.
Doctor Who Theme – Delia Derbyshire/Ron Grainer (Dr Devious Mix)
I decided to remix Delia Derbyshire’s iconic and pioneering version of the Doctor Who theme to get me out of copyright wrangles when I posted a video on YouTube (see the Vibe-O-Scope.) I took three samples, a ‘seething’ sound which was a kind of slithering hiss, the Tardis wheezing and a single bass note, which sounds a bit like a drum. It turned into an epic project and I stalled halfway through. Rather than go insane, I re-recorded the complete half in reverse, and stuck it on the end, effectively doubling the length of the track and making it sound like I’d done twice the work. George Martin would love me. Delia, however would probably not join me on the dance floor as I threw shapes to the funked up version of her tune. And rightly so: her thundering realisation of Ron Grainer’s theme was the very first example of electronic dance music and about 20 years ahead of it’s time. It’s definitive and unique. No other piece of music has sounded like it before or since, and like a siren it excites and unsettles. It’s interesting to note that this version has never been successfully improved upon, in 50 years of Doctor Who.
If you’re interested in comparing any of these mixes with their original versions, just look for them on YouTube or iTunes to see how they’ve been remixed.
Disclaimer: All of these tracks are amateur works presented under Creative Commons License, and are not for commercial gain. Each song appears in a form previously unavailable to the public and are examples of fan-made sound modification, which may generate publicity for the original artist. The tracks are intended to complement and not detract from the original work. No copyright infringement intended.