What is Chopwork? On first blush it appears to be a different approach to remixing, one in which the overarching structures of the original song are viciously broken up and masoned like brickwork into new and novel structures. Imagine reassembling the pyramids with no clue as to their original shape. Without underlying threads of continuity, the remixer must create their own, engaging in an obsessive cubist project to arrange the musical facets of the source material in a coherent and unique way.
Chopwork pioneer BMAN’s remix of Paramore’s “Decode”, renders the original nearly unrecognizable. Long gone is the anthemic, lovesick pop-punk of “that Paramore song from the Twilight movie”. The result is something much more aggressive and experimental. Jagged samples trigger remorselessly around the skeleton of a minimal 4/4 dance beat. Artifacts and attacks jump out like ambushers. Long arcs of rock synergy are truncated into percussive peals of sound. Sublevel melodies strain to connect across sample boundaries. The result sounds something like a conversation between some edgy subgenre of House Music and TDEP-style Mathcore.
And yet there is pathos in the confusion. Hayley Williams’ coos and other manipulated vocals become all the more precious in their struggle for full expression. Stitched together unnaturally in places, Williams’ note progressions create a sense of ambivalent emotions and bizarre mood swings. The tension between the desire to hear a full melody and the exciting unpredictability of the syncopated rhythms of the remix make for an interesting, if somewhat restless listening experience.
BMAN’s Introducing Chopwork will be available in the spring. It will be interesting to see whether the techniques used on “Decode” carry over into a recognizable style when applied to other tracks and genres. We’ll just have to wait and see.