The remixing world sometimes gets a bit of a kicking. I’ve read way too many times accusations of remixers being “unoriginal” or “people pressing a button to make music”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whatever skills are not being put in playing an actual physical instrument are being developed in finding new ways to tinker with music and re-interpreting a track, whether it’s a widely known one or an obscure ditty, is always a hard task.
Now, when the band that wants remixing puts the clause that you can’t use any instrument/sound that isn’t part of the track, the challenge rises, exponentially. So was the rule that United Sons of Toil imposed over their remixers in this collection (sadly, their last release) titled Forces of production.
How does it work, when a band as loud as United Sons of Toil lends its granite-hard sounds to remixers? In a way, it’s a transformation akin to Fear Factory‘s Remanufacture, with one major similarity and one major difference. Similarity: no song resembles the original. Difference: genres chosen. Whereas Remanufacture was Industrial (with two ambient pieces), Forces of Production goes for quite a varied range of genres. Dub, chillout, trance and even some light house are here. Some of these genres aren’t really associated with the social and political commentaries that infuse the lyrics of United Sons of Toil, so it’s a pleasant surprise to get their message delivered in another form.
Of all the remixers, Guerrilla Digital seemed to be the ones doing the more violent remixes, using industrial sounds (‘SSRI (teethgrinder mix)’) or giving a few calmer moments before setting it all on fire (the ‘Friendly Skies’ remix starts so eerily). Barring one track, Bell & Circuit seemed to prefer a dub approach to music, giving it a more chilled out colour. The Al Ritchie mix for ‘Cast Lead’ felt like a vintage 90s dance (sort of like the ‘Humpty Dance’). ‘Shining Path’, a track I enjoyed from their previous album, gets the dancey remix, courtesy of Jeff Jagielo. Feels perfect to dust off the ol’ Wipeout 2097 game and change the soundtrack.
Without slagging any of the other remixers (they all did a splendid job), the one remix that blew me away was Lakeicychill‘s remix of ‘Panic’. The glacial pace is perfectly intertwined with that heavily laid guitar, with some processed sounds fading in and out of existence. It’s a gorgeous remix and it seems it will be the swansong of this venture called United Sons of Toil.
Raising a glass for you.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López