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Kings of Convenience | Versus (Source)
As an album almost completely devoid of repetitive beats of any kind, Kings of Convenience's masterful acoustic debut 'Quiet Is The New Loud' must have seemed like a blank slate for remixers, the usual template for whom (especially when dealing with the 'indie' world) is to slap a heavy beat and a bit of bass onto an already finished track, drop out most of the vocals, reverb the rest, and call it a day. Thankfully the remix artists and collaborators KofC have selected for 'Versus' choose, in most cases, a more interesting (though not always successful) route. Though, for the most part, adhering to the currently vogueish tinny-electro sound, all clickety wasplike cymbals and pattering beats, when graced with KofC's trademark soft plucked acoustics and sotto voce harmonies, a real sense of warmth is produced. And when new instrumentation is introduced, like the vibrant horn section on Evil Tordevil'' reinterpretation of Leaning Against The Wall or the bluesy piano on Andy Votel's Winning a Battle, Losing The War the results can be truly outstanding. The only non-album track here is b-side Gold for the Price of Silver, a collaboration with fellow Norweigans Erot, making a beautiful change of direction for KofC, retaining the lush harmonies and mournful lyrics but replacing the acoustic backing with a deep, rumbling groove and elegant electric guitar licks. At the other end of the spectrum, David Whitaker's Toxic Girl keeps the entire track but overlays a rich, intricate orchestral arrangement, with sweeping strings perfectly complementing the sparse, original backing. It isn't all so successful ?? the instrumental reprise of Four Tet's The Weight of My Words remix is overlong and unnecessary, and Ladytron's 'dark' reinterpretation of Little Kids adds multiple scratchy computer effects but saps the inherent sadness from the song. However, this album does stand as a testament to those remix artists dedicated to fashioning new artefacts from familiar material, and it is to their credit that the fireside warmth and intimate melancholy that distinguished 'Quiet...' are retained for much of this album's duration. Still prefer the originals.

Tom Huddleston
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002

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