Friday, 8 February 2013

Within 'The Cracks Within'... FiWT Remixes | MS Fundraising

I've never been particularly fond of remixes on the whole, possibly because all too often they jar with the mood and sentiment of the original, and perhaps I’ve heard one too many lazy efforts that essentially slap vocal samples over an unrelated dance beat...

So, what better way for me to kick-off 2013 than with a remix collection?! ;-)

As far as I'm concerned 'Faith in Worthless Things' was complete the moment I sent the masters to the pressing plant. I'd worked on it a long time, and If there were any inclination (on my part) to tinker further I would have done so back then – The CD / download is the default version and it is what it is... I did briefly consider remixing a couple of tunes for a proposed single release, but having already ingrained my DNA into the originals I wasn’t suitably motivated to reinvent the wheel. Better to save my creative energy and ideas for a follow-up album, (which, incidentally, is already in gestation).

But then it dawned on me – I'm fortunate to have a lot of talented musician / producer friends, each with their own unique sonic language. The idea of a specially curated album of remixes by some of these guys & girls began to appeal. If presented as a body of work, rather than random one-off mixes floating around the web, it could be an interesting and musically valid spin-off from the album.

I approached several people that I pretty much knew would sidestep those remix clich├ęs I loved to loath, and luckily they all said yes immediately! One of the rules I set myself was to only invite folks that hadn't appeared on the parent album, though I immediately broke that directive by asking Tim Motzer! ;-) He's the exception though, and his mix is of a track he didn’t originally feature on.

So, what songs to include? Whilst the production and arrangements of all the songs on 'FiWT' were important – almost an extension of the songwriting really – there were a couple of pieces that felt more readily open to reinterpretation: 'The Inner Voice', which was the closest thing to a conventional pop song on there, plus the title track which was musically quite sparse (deliberately so). Both also had particularly suggestive lyrics that might help conjure fresh musical ideas. Compiling an album that features only two songs might have been limiting, but I had faith (see what I did there?) that the material would be diverse enough to carry it. So that was that - I gave the remixers the choice of either song, (Ingo Vogelmann opted to tackle both), prepared audio stems from my original mixes, and handed the reins over...

The only real brief I gave was for them to follow their gut and do what felt right. I also asked that they respect the lyric and try not to break it up too much – Thankfully Tobias Reber ignored the latter request and significantly rearranged the words, but did so in a brilliant way that enhanced his rendition and still managed to convey the core 'message' in a stark and beautiful fashion :-)

Here's the full cast of remixers:

Tim Motzer (track 1)
Tobias Reber (track 2)
Worldengine (track 3)
Hollowcreature (track 4)
Ingo Vogelmann (tracks 5 & 9)
Adrian Benavides (track 6)
Branwen Somatik (track 7)
Fabio Trentini (track 8)

I'm truly grateful to all of these folks for their enthusiasm and creativity!

'The Cracks Within' came to me as a title almost from the outset. Not only is it a quote from the song 'Faith in Worthless Things' but it seemed especially fitting as these mixes would to some extent be exploring the sonic cracks (or 'grooves' if we're gonna be old-school) within my original arrangements. Together with designer Oscar Henriquez (who had worked on the previous release) I put together a deliberately stark cover design for the collection, one that echoes a particular detail of the (physical CD) packaging for 'FiWT' - It also alludes to the eight remixers in an abstract (but probably obvious now I've said it) kinda way...

As for the results? Well both my co-featured artists (Lisa Fletcher and Markus Reuter) and I are delighted! No two pieces are alike. There's "something for everyone", as the saying goes... Some renditions are alternate views of the originals, whilst others are almost new compositions entirely, built around the lyrics and vocal melody. It's a good balance I think, and whichever approach has been taken all of them are clearly linked to their origins. I think in summary I would describe this collection as a "sonic parallel universe" to that which is presented on 'Faith in Worthless Things'.

It's been interesting for me to see / hear the various angles explored by individual remixers. Some choices I wouldn't have made, but that's entirely the point! They are fascinating nonetheless :-) I only got directly involved on two or three occasions, after being actively invited to give feedback, and even then my comments were minimal – I didn't want to influence anyone's stylistic approach or expression. For the most part I stepped back.

I'm pretty sure that I'll work with several (possibly all?) of these folks again, and not only in a remix capacity. So the project also has added value to me as R & D for potential future collaborations :-)

During the process I considered several different distribution models for the project, including pressing a physical CD. But ultimately that wouldn’t have been cost-effective, and whilst it's presented as a collection it's not really the follow-up album to 'FiWT', so better to make that distinction. Plus, I wanted to ensure that as many folks as possible got to hear this work, so it made sense to keep it online and essentially FREE.

Having decided not to personally benefit financially from this release I wanted to see to it that at least some money would go to a very deserving cause - Therefore everyone who downloads the album is invited to consider making a donation to the MS Society, a (UK-based) charity that supports those with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and helps fund much needed research into this currently incurable disease. My mother has a very extreme case of MS that has rendered her mostly paralysed, so it’s a cause that is very close to my heart.

I have no qualms about adopting a Bob Geldof style persona for this bit: If you download the music and get some pleasure from it PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING to the MS SOCIETY. Think of it as 'sponsorship' for the music... Thank you :-)

The best way to support the fundraising is to make your donation via the special 'Just Giving' page I've created for the project, (either click on the image above, or go HERE...) Just Giving pass the money securely and transparently to the MS Society, so it's a clean and simple way to get involved.

Alternatively, any donations made via the Bandcamp page for 'The Cracks Within' will be manually transferred by myself to the Just Giving fund. Some folks have already done this... PLEASE NOTE however that Bandcamp take a 15% cut of the transaction, whereas Just Giving will pass all your money onto the charity.

The choice to donate or not is yours... Either way, we hope you enjoy the remix collection and ask that you share all the relevant links (Bandcamp download & Just Giving) with any friends and contacts that you think may be interested. Thank you!

Lee x