It is quite rare for a remix album to better the source material. Versus by Kings of Convenience is one of those select few. Their album Quiet Is the New Loud is a very pleasant disc, but the songs all begin to sound the same halfway through. That's not a problem here, as the various remixers take varying approaches to the Kings' hushed and nocturnal sound. They also keep enough of the band's essence so it sounds like a real record by Kings of Convenience and not some cobbled-together mess. (Only once are Erik Glambek Bøe's lovely vocals omitted, and that is on the very last track.) Some of the remixers take the electronic route: Röyksopp keeps the acoustic guitars and whispered vocal of "I Don't Know What I Can Save You From" and adds a perky bassline and loping looped beat; Four Tet alters the acoustic guitars into a blurred symphony of noise and adds a head-bobbing hip-hop beat to "The Weight of My Words," but keeps the melancholy gloom of the song intact. Some of the remixers take an organic route: Riton turns "The Girl From Back Then" into a smoky jazz tune complete with a Milesian muted trumpet solo; Alfie adds sawing cellos and huge, reverbed drums to "Failure"; David Whitaker doesn't alter anything, but adds a full orchestral string arrangement. The most successful remixes are those that throw the listener for a loop and do something unexpected: Erot actually makes "Gold for the Price of Silver" downright funky, adding a little '70s funk guitar strumming, heavy breathing female vocals in the background, and a groove that will have you up shaking it in no time. Evil Toredivel's mix of "Leaning Against the Wall" turns the song into a horn-driven, almost new wave stomper that wouldn't sound out of place on a Madness record. Ladytron adds a sense of urgent doom to their mix of "Little Kids," with the stuttering beat and sinister synths. They even throw in some tubular bells, and that is never a bad idea. If you liked the Kings of Convenience album, you'll find much to like here. If you a fan of remix albums, you'll be hard pressed to find a better one than this. ~Tim Sendra, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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