Chris Donaghey
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The DFA Remixes: Chapter One

I’m one of those people who had an animosity toward the word “remix” ever since I first heard local DJs try to mess with hits from pop top 40 countdowns. For a long time, the remix concept meant nothing more to me than repeating and echoing vocals on top of a generic four-to-the-floor drum machine. This was the case until I discovered bands like Daft Punk and Basement Jaxx. Even though these bands didn’t make the biggest noise with remixes, their skills as DJs in mashing up many different pre-existing and new sounds into an elegant chaos. Maybe remixes are only appalling if done without ingenuity! The light went off in my head just like that. The production duo known as the DFA (James Murphy and Tim Goldsworthy) allowed my evolution to continue with their unique work on everyone from N.E.R.D. to Nine Inch Nails. The DFA Remixes – Chapter One culls together a variety of these sorted remixes into a 70 plus minute dance party.

Remixes are judged on many standards, from how much the song has changed from its original incarnation (for better or worse) to how the remix bears the stamp of its creator. The DFA duo have been known for their skills at deconstructing tunes and crafting patchwork originals that fit together seamlessly, so hopes are high with this package. It turns out that the only people who will be disappointed with these high-octane grooves are wallflowers and party poopers. From the beginning of this Chapter, we’re subjected to skittering guitars and synths dancing on leviathan bass notes (the blazing take on Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon”), fist-pumping 12 minute boogie marathons WITH more cowbell (Gorillaz’s “Dare”), and all points in between. Murphy and Goldsworthy are able to slaughter the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Mars, Arizona” into a sultry epic mess and turn around and metamorphose “(Just Like We) Breakdown” by Hot Chip into a pulsing dream-pop ballad. Their variety is just as impressive as ever in these nine songs. Sure, their battle plans may sound formulaic after taking in the entire experience and it could be noted that some of the longer remixes would have functioned just as well without the extra minute or two of production loops (“Boxer” by the Chemical Brothers, for one), but I suppose that is what the skip button is for with whatever music player you use. Every song can function independently and the track-to-track progression is only necessary if you don't want to stop dancing and putting your hands together.

The Death From Above crew have given us Chapter One of what they have been able to accomplish to date with the tools at their disposal and keen ears for the cutting edge of what modern music has to offer in every genre. Their ability to improve on themselves and others is something fresh to behold. These songs may be presented to us as verdant experiments in music architecture – and perhaps they are – but with their talent and vision, the DFA are already pushing new and electrifying blood through the vasculature of what we know and love.

Release date: April 4, 2006
Label: DFA Records
Rating: 7.7 / 10

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