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A review of...
Dead by Spectres
Spectres get some famous mates to provide an alternate take on their debut album
The remix album is traditionally the reserve of hardcore fans / anal completists, but this one is perhaps a rare exception to the rule, in that it makes Spectres excellent yet difficult debut album a little more accessible to the casual listener. That probably won't be apparent when you listen to Vision Fortune's typically abstract take on "Drag" (which does a marvellous job of taking one swirling sound and turning into a throbbing minimalist anthem), but dig a little deeper and you can find cuts that sound almost mainstream in comparison to the source material. Often the tracks are reworked in such a way that the results offer a more stripped take on Spectres trademark barrage of sound. None more so than Stuart Braithwaite's beautiful kraut-rock rendering of "This Purgatory" which is filmic and uplifting and absolutely nothing like anything that Spectres have put to record. Interestingly, and welcome for fans of more challenging material there's also a frankly interpretable, but equally impressive free jazz take on the exact same song by Blood Music. But getting back to my argument that this is a commercial pop record. Take a listen to Factory Floor's "Sink" or Andy Bell's "Sea Of Trees" which could almost be hacienda house favourites in an alternate late 1980s.
Then there's the tracks which occupy a shoegazey middle-ground like Hookworms' remix of "The Sky Of All Places", which, for the most part, isolates the vocal track, adds a tonne of distortion (even more so than the original) and for a few fleeting sections goes all Jesus and Mary Chain/Wall of Sound on your ass. The glitchy, industrial wasteland of Dominic Mitchison's "Blood In The Cups" is another winning experiment in how to take the sound of Spectres and turn it into something wholly different whilst retaining the soul of the band (i.e. it's still a bit intimidating).
A lovingly crafted tribute to a great album.
"Sea Of Trees" (Andy Bell) - the ex-Ride man supplies what is probably the most transformational piece on the LP. Turning, what is admittedly one of Dying's more uplifting tunes into something altogether more triumphant. Like a baggy anthem that hasn't been played to death, this show's the band in a whole new funky light.