The Faint, Danse Macabre Remixes (Astralwerks)

The collection is primarily notable because rather than giving us a grab bag of remixes of a few tracks, Astralwerks has assembled a completely remixed version of The Faint’s Danse Macabre – each track done by a different remixer. Only “Posed to Death” appears twice but each version is so different that it hardly sounds like the same song. Because the original material is top notch, sending remixers in is a risk. Fortunately, none turns a Faint song into a booty bangin’ club anthem.

One of the best elements of the Faint’s dark electronic music has always been the way they deconstruct the linear progression of their arrangements. Despite the repetitious, programmable attributes of many of their instruments, The Faint rarely let a song simply pump along. They dissect drum beats from verse to verse; add new instruments; pull others out; and generally break up the proceedings as interestingly as possible.

This is where the remixes lose the spirit of their subject – several are high on repetition. Thin White Duke takes on “The Conductor” and turns the “control, control” refrain into a motif which runs underneath all 7 minutes and 50 seconds of his version. Likewise, Paul Oakenfold propels “Glass Danse” with a ceaseless drum pattern that is just on the careful side of house music. Tommie Sunshine’s “Let The Poison Spill From Your Throat” does the same. Both manage almost to make The Faint sound like a 21st Century Duran Duran. Junior Sanchez adds a repetitive crunchy guitar to “Violent” and though it first sounds thrilling, around minute 5 it begins to wear on.

On the other hand, Photek’s work on “Total Job” manages to make that creepy song sound even creepier. And Ursula 1000’s version of “Your Retro Career Melted” with its thin, reverbed guitar prominently displayed sounds like a different band.

It’s hard to tell whether these remixes would appeal to someone who was not already a fan of The Faint. More than many other remix ideas, it is easy to accept the tracks here as their own songs rather than compare them to the original. Even the occasional Duran Duran-ism is easy-to-swallow when paired with The Faint’s jaded vocals and odd keyboard riffs. And for the Faint fan, while this isn’t as good as a Faint record, it’s a great listen.