The last song on the new Spitehouse EP (see the previous post) is a remix of a song from our first release, D G# [Metallica] A. The song in question is “So Much Wasted Motion,” a number we all liked pretty well. I decided to remix it in the ambient genre – but what does that mean, exactly? If one says they heard some ambient they liked, they could be referring to a four-minute, rhythmic song with melodic progressions, or an hour-long piece consisting of exactly one piano chord.
It seems the taxonomic language is less developed here – Grindcore and Funeral Doom will rarely be confused among reasonable metal fans, and should require little illumination, but one must break out the descriptors to differentiate a Vangelis-style synth-romp from a sparse, minimal Stars of the Lid-esque bleakscape.
I don’t mind the confusion. Navigating the genre, which is still quite new to me, has been more open-ended, but just as satisfying. There are so many techniques and musical philosophies at work that each artist and album holds wonderful surprises. Despite the shitty predictability (that infantile Aphex Twin record AGAIN!? Corny-ass Music for Airports?!? Really???) and truly bizarre omissions (No Thomas Köner or Porter Ricks!?) inherent in their list, even Pitchfork put this shorty on some game.
When it came time to remix SMWM, allt he hand-wringing fell away. I just started fooling around like I always do (albeit without tempo, time signature, or drums), and the results were, from my perspective, fantastic. Sounds from the original mutated, becoming unrecognizable. Reverb settings created new caverns of joy, poignancy, and horror. Tonal progressions revealed themselves. This is not to say the whole process was fluent. There was quite a bit of effort and agonizing, and a little forcing as well, but all along the way the structure of the song felt self-justifying – that is to say it sounded good and promising, and my work seemed to be nudging things in the right direction.
By the end I managed to create something that possessed a few touchstones of my favorite ambient artists (Tim Hecker, Oktopus from Dälek, Thomas Köner, Old Man Gloom… if you must know), but didn’t sound like a direct knock-off of any of them – which is important, to me at least.