The indie rock remix album is a dicey proposition. Often, the music’s spontaneity and looseness make it ill suited to remixing, which, during this decade, has often meant techno-precision. And if you’re a diehard indie rocker, chances are a lot of your friends are indie rockers, too. Your songs will be force-fed a dozen Fisher Price house beats. Who wants to listen to that?
With the release of last year’s Night of the Furies, Raleigh band The Rosebuds seemed to be following the course of musical history, telescoping the arc of popular music from the ’50s to the ’80s into a handful of albums. It remained a rock-based band, but added heavy disco and new wave inflections. Sweet Beats, Troubled Sleep, an album of remixes of Night of the Furies, lays another length of trackdisco morphs into techno. If the pattern holds, we can expect the next Rosebuds release to be ’90s-redolent: perhaps a grunge record or rap-metal. The mind boggles.
Unsurprisingly, a couple of the album’s standout tracks are nontechno, even as they flirt with it: Justin Vernon, who produced Night of the Furies before forming Bon Iver, refashions the soaring, string-laden “Get Up Get Out” into an atmospheric ballad with a pressurized cadence. Such dualism brings to mind an acoustic version of The Field, the Swedish minimal-techno producer whose 2007 album From Here We Go Sublime was a smash in both the worlds of techno and indie rock. Portastaticled by Mac McCaughan, who runs Merge, The Rosebuds’ long-time labelretrofits the creeping noir of “Silence by the Lakeside” with sprightly shakers, romantic strings and eerie, whistling synths.
But Night of the Furies‘ disco bent makes it uncommonly fertile territory for the more electronically inclined remixers, too. Deeply sonorous refrains by Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp are perfect for judicious excerpting and loopingdeep-house styleand the album’s rollicking cadences are naturally supplanted by skittering mechanical drums and lockstep bass. The contributors admirably rip the songs open and reassemble them into fantastic new shapes. The Fire Hazard remix of “I Better Run” smears the vocals toward the disarticulated emotion of dubstep, strafed by jackhammer drums. Luke Warm’s take on “Hold on to the Coat” has clockwork percussion and luminous synth washes straight out of a Pantha du Prince track. And at zero dollars, the price is right.