Alex Ridha, better known as Boys Noize, is one of the more successful artists to rise out of the rush of electro producers in the mid-2000s. Actually, that’s a huge understatement. Most of the pure electro-house artists of those years have either gone on to do other things or fallen out of favor, but Boys Noize has stuck around. I think it’s because that sound — that hard, abrasive, techy style that is his trademark — has come to exemplify what people think of as “rave” music. He’s big enough for people to know who he is, but not really mainstream enough for occasional Zedd and SHM fan to stomach as home listening.
His last record, Out of the Black, wasn’t really different aside from a few experimental tracks. If anything, Boys Noize’s production has only gotten better and more versatile. The style of music was still the same (I don’t think you can accuse him of going soft), but it’s a more complex offering than Oi Oi Oi and more interesting than Power. So then, with the Boys Noize’s “sound” and “not shittyness” pretty much assured, the question is then, “Why should I even listen to a remix album?”
Well, it’s great for people who don’t really like Boys Noize.
As I said before, his style is pretty particular and Out of the Black was a further refinement of that. Out of the Black – The Remixes puts those tracks in the hands of some very capable people. Take “What You Want,” for example. In its original form, it’s a Daft Punk-esque, electro house banger. Chromeo smooths it out into their own retro style. Audion’s acid house remix of “Stop” is similar in that regard. The abrasive, metallic samples and synths of the original are boiled down into a warm, pulsating sonic goop. It is, in a word, interesting.
Chromeo’s track is probably the most dramatic change from the original. Other remixes are less transformative and more evolutionary. The Chemical Brother’s remix of “XTC,” for example, takes what was already a good song and turns it into a ravey epic. It’s fitting since their style trends towards long, explosive crescendos like the one featured in the original track. Oliver’s remix of “Conchord” improves on the original by making it more house-y and less electro.
Two things that surprised me on this one. I didn’t like Justice’s remix of “Ich R U.” It sounds like Justice, which is good, but it can’t shake the feeling of being all buildup. Other songs get away with this by having really diverse samples or effects or mixing (see: John Hopkins). The other surprise was how much I liked Blood Diamond’s remix of “Got It” feat. Snoop Dogg. Blood Diamonds abandon the original’s cold production for a steel pan and a head-bobbing sample. The original is dope, but the remix is fun.
I think that’s the whole vibe of this remix record. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed Out of the Black. It’s a very well done electro record, probably the best one of last year. Where the remix album succeeds is its versatility, which isn’t something you’d necessarily want from an artist record anyways.
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