What makes Caribou’s “Melody Day” work is that it disguises itself, sounding like something from the 1960s on first listen – The vocals, the two-note piano, the sleigh bells – while being something with the shape of the 1990s, or more contemporary. It’s like a harder Polyphonic Spree, in a way, or a meaner, sleeker Mercury Rev/Chemical Brothers collaboration; there’s a collision of musical cultures that, by the time you get to 1:09, sounds like a collision in the best ways, with drums and vocals and guitar all spiraling out and fighting for your attention. By the time you get to what sounds like a flute, twittering away in the background (It may be a keyboard…?), I’m completely won over.
Also wonderful, but with a very different feeling: The Four Tet (Yes, him again) remix:
Is it possible to take a mental health day from a blogging deadline that you’ve set for yourself? Probably not, but that’s what I’m doing today, and instead leaving you with this example of a Four Tet remix significantly improving a song, as referenced yesterday: Beth Orton’s Daybreaker, which goes from a weird song with a strange arrangement that sounds entirely out of place with the vocal, and weirdly influenced by bad acid house music of the 1980s, to something that sounds much more enjoyable and organic to my ears.
It might be something as basic as the added echo and acoustic guitar that ground the Four Tet version for me, but, yeah… the second version is almost unimaginably better, if you ask me.
It’s another odd week; it feels as if January has just been odd weeks, each one with its own flavor of weirdness, either bemusing, confusing or patently overwhelming, so why should this one be any different, right? This particular week, so far, has been stuttering, stopping and starting in terms of energy and productivity, so it’s no surprise that I’ve had this song in my head for the last couple of days. Well… “song” feels like the wrong thing to write, in a way, because “song” for me feels as if it should have lyrics and singing, so… this is a tune, I guess? It’s the first Four Tet track proper that I listened to after countless times hearing a Four Tet remix of someone else’s music and thinking to myself, this is great, I should try and trac down more of this and utterly failing in my own plan. And, as an introduction to everything I like about Four Tet, it’s pretty much perfect; the mix of the organic and the digital sounds, the feel of an updated jazz sound – the simplicity of that guitar riff – that also somehow feels like some kind of comedown track you’d hear at the end of a Chemical Brothers album or something similar (especially at 1:27 in this video, where the bass and drums are suddenly looped much tighter, and become this wall of sound, or at 2:20, when the guitar appears again, reversed). But it also has the emptiness that makes me wish that Four Tet tracks had more of the emotionality and character of the tracks he’s remixed for other people; by the end of the track, you’re ready for it to be done, if that makes sense – The cleverness and playfulness has ceased to be a novelty, and you’re left wanting it to make one more evolution and turn into something that’s ultimately more interesting.