Architecture in Helsinki - We Died, They Remixed (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Architecture in Helsinki

We Died, They Remixed (2006)


When I found out that Australia's Architecture in Helsinki was done tracking their new album, Places Like This, I busted out an email to Bar/None to try and put a word in and eventually get a promo copy to review. I loved 2005's In Case We Die so much it made #6 on my top 20 of the year. It was just so much fun, with crazy amounts of different instruments and an incredibly upbeat feel and childish giddy vocals. The label didn't have anything from the new album to give me yet, so they sent this instead. Though remixes aren't of the greatest interest to me, with how much I love the source material I thought it could be a fun ride as well. With everything they jam into one song, it would give remix artists quite a lot to mess around with. So what happens when you take the music of eight way-too-peppy humans and man-handle it with cold robotic surgical arms?

Just in case the title didn't give it away, We Died, They Remixed focuses on In Case We Die, with just one random track from their debut Fingers Crossed thrown in. The remix is in different order and kicks off with one of the original's best tracks, "Do the Whirlwind." The Safety Scissors' take on it sounds a little odd because he ups the tempo slightly and the groove suddenly seems forced, and he takes out a key component of the original: the sweet bassy synth line. He doesn't leave much of the layers of percussion in either, though he does play up the ‘whiffing' wind sound at the end. Luckily, this is the one track that gets two versions, and the Hot Chip version is more successful. They go nuts with the bass synth, changing up its rhythms and ornamenting it, and they leave in the cool sax harmonies to groove out the end of the track.

"It'5!," an already dancey song, gets good treatment from 33hz who somehow successfully doubles the ecstatic human shouts of the title with a robotic harmony (vocoder perhaps). The cheery and silly original is given a cool and cold makeover that ends up as one of my favorite remixes here. The title track is done up by DJ Mehdi, who focuses on the first part of the original, and though he relies a little much on drum breaks that have little to do with the actual song, it does something that is rare in dance music and remixes: He creates an odd meter by looping the synth part in such a way that it trips up the beat, and the end result is pretty cool. "Need to Shout" is the one track here that features new lyrics, with Mocky layin' down a lazy rapped verse over the slow groove and the flute and steel drums of the original. Somehow it works.

Unfortunately one of my most-loved tracks from the original, "Wishbone," gets slapped around by Franc Tetaz who replaces a lot of the infectious female lead vocals with something that sounds like that old SimpleText program that would speak what you typed. Another miss is "Maybe You Can Owe Me" which takes way too many liberties and actually makes the track less danceable by stripping the hihat beat at the intro and replacing it with Animal Collective-style acoustic guitars; later it has some faux-Indian quarter-tone melody goin' on that just doesn't make me wanna shake my ass. Also, the two last tracks here seem unnecessary. "Rendezvous: Potrero Hill" was basically a musical interlude, but Isan manages to turn the shortest original track into the longest (6:28) track here. "Like a Call" from Fingers Crossed is sufficiently funk-ified, but it has already been released on an EP, so why break the theme with it here?

Obviously this is for huge Architecture fans only, and while I'd include myself in that bunch, this still makes me want to just pop in the original album. There are some interesting things goin' on here and the source material gives remixers a lot more to go on than some others that come to mind (DFA1979), but really this experience has just whet my appetite for the new album. Bring it!