One of the great things about Music Complete is the diversity in the electronic tracks; calling those of us of a certain generation (X?) back to the dance floors of the disco, club, field and festival. Singularity – as to be expected, being the production lovechild of Chemical Brothers and New Order – is firmly targeted at the techno / big-beat punter grooving (on their giant piece of dirt spinning in the universe?) with arms waving through the arcing lasers and clouds of dry ice, with flags and whistles and the blurred faces of a heaving crowd.
This is a muscular track to be sure, stamped with the imprimatur of Tom Rowlands’ programming; incessant brain-drilling midrange loops, chattering noisy sequences, brash flares of synth, cacophonous highs followed by drop-downs to pure techno, and – most importantly – exquisite blending with ‘traditional’ rock elements such as Chapman’s bass and those huge rock-drum bridges (I assume performed by Morris rather than programmed). The production really is excellent; so many details in the mix to add space and texture. I feel that Singularity is a better Chems-collaboration that Here To Stay (even though that was a great track too). Bernard is in absolute top form giving 200% to his song writing and vocal performance, and the line ‘for lost souls who can’t come home, for friends not here, we shed our tears‘ may be my new all-time favourite Sumner lyric.
The album version is definitive. The Single Edit cuts to the chase too quickly, losing much of the essential build-up & cut-down drama that the full version takes such time developing. The Extended Version, unlike other tracks from Music Complete which are enhanced by their Complete Music alter-egos, is here not quite as good as the album version. It loses some of the urgency and shape-shifting that you get with the original, although having said that it’s nice to hear some of the details in this more spacious mix with greater clarity.
Singularity is extensively served by remixes spread across various formats and digital issues courtesy of Mute. Erol Alkan’s Stripped Mix has a nice clarity with its emphasis on the buzzing sequencer loop as its backbone, but Bernard’s vocals sound too isolated and ‘down the hall’, and the bridges are too discordant. Alkan’s Extended Rework follows similar lines but is re-edited more effectively.
Mark Reeder certainly took his time putting his own stamp on the band for which he has been such a long time colleague and friend*. No idea why, because his remixes are terrific (as they were for Bad Lieutenant). His Duality Remix (and Edit) honours the original but replaces several of the Chemicals’ signature noisy-but-good core sequences with his own; and in particular his alternative synth bass programming. I particularly like Reeder’s Individual Remix, which takes this approach a step further and has an entirely reworked core of clean electronic sequences. Excellent.
The Liars Remix is a curious beast, taking aim at a glitchy dubstep target to reasonable effect. Some nice original details and effective inclusions from the source material. I can’t listen to it repeatedly as it aches my brain, but I applaud the effort.
JS Zeiter’s remixes are fantastic, with his eponymous Remix (and associated Dub) a high-BPM driving techno gem with lots of slow analogue FX builds, airs and washes, rubbery bass & buzzing filters, and subtle drum shifts. 9 minutes very well spent, and certainly in my list of best New Order remixes. Zeiter’s are the best of a high quality bunch, offering a contemporary and unique interpretation without selling out the original. Watch out for his other works**.
A great album track and a great single, with lots of sweet remixes. So close to giving this 5 stars, but I have to stack it up against the next track, which for me is next-level altogether…
* By my reckoning all the way back to 1984 with his band Shark Vegas, his involvement in the Berlin scene, and his representation of Factory Records in Germany.
** James has also had an extensive role in the forthcoming remastered Definitive Editions of the New Order albums, of which Movement has been out for a few weeks at time of writing. Having had a little input into the early discussions around archive and inclusions, I can tell you that James (and all those involved in the project/s) have done – and are doing – New Order fans a painstakingly researched, deeply considered, carefully crafted and IMHO stunningly realised service.