Occasionally, I stumble into a sound that can endure the test of my iPod. While that's not exactly the most poetic expression, we can all relate to our increasingly short attention span causing us to skip to the next song not thirty seconds after the first started. Electronic music falls especially victim to this habit. The inherently repetitive nature of these tracks make them particularly susceptible to the 'next' button.
Perhaps you may be familiar with a band from the early 90's called Saint Etienne. Known for their eclecticism, their increasingly electronic sound made their already tasteful production ideal for electronic remixes. In May of 1994, Saint Ettiene released the single "Like A Motorway". The track received mostly favorable reviews, and topped at #47 on the UK Singles Chart. The single contained a remix by rising IDM stars Autechre, which you can listen to below.
The Autechre remix of "Like A Motorway", officially entitled "Skin Up, You're Already Dead" is a trip back into time of beautifully orchestrated IDM that sparsely reaches our ears nowadays. The lengthy track has a definitive early 90's feel to it, but hearing it in 2012 its really extraordinary. Eight minutes of sweeping pads, the same vocal loop, the same drum beat—despite this I still couldn't cut the track short, it simply stays interesting. Occasionally, the panning, grainy vocals that seem to disappear underneath themselves add a fabricated texture to the track as a whole, giving it a very dark and robotic feel to the emotionally driven pads that push the track forward. I couldn't help but feeling that sensation one gets when they hear an outstanding and cohesive remix of an original track, that takes the sound in a completely different direction than the original piece. After listening to the original track for what seemed like hours, I still couldn't pin the feeling or feature that Autechre pulled from the Saint Etiene original. Alas, this article isn't entirely about the Autechre track, but another entirely different remix by another IDM giant produced by a mysterious man under the name of AFX.
Those familiar with Aphex Twin know that the seminal producer was known for the wide spectrum of his sound. In contrast to the Autechre track, "Quex-Rd", the AFX interpretation of the Saint Etienne original entitled "Who Do You Think You Are" is certainly a much harsher and noisier sound. A blown out kick drum with clanky, metallic percussion set an entirely different mood. Not unlike the Autechre remix, Aphex Twin takes an already spectacular song and extracts a completely foreign emotion and texture compared to the original. Listening to the original and the AFX version is like hearing tracks from two different decades, with the darkened, melancholic undertone featured in the remix drastically clashes with the 90's pop sound of "Who DO You Think You Are".
You're probably wondering why I went to the trouble of writing about two completely different remixes here and what the underlying purpose of this article was. On 21 July 2011, a white label 12" slipped into record stores without so much as a peep from blogs. As far as most people were concerned, "Skin Up, You're Already Dead" and "Quex-Rd" have been readily available in virtually every format for almost two decades. But for the first time, these two exceptional tracks are available on one 12". To 99% of you, Quex-Rd / Skin Up, You're Already Dead is hardly even worth mulling over, you could probably pick up both these tracks separately for under $2 on Discogs. I apologize if you are apart of that 99% that have read this far, but this release is truly for the bona fide music fans and collectors. I say this because I honestly believe the only people willing to pay the inflated prices that exist in the vinyl collectors' world are the vinyl collectors themselves, and Quex-Rd / Skin Up, You're Already Dead is no exception. If you have the slightest bit of inclination to buy this rare 12", I encourage you to do so. It's readily available on Discogs, but I was able to find an unopened copy from an online record outlet with a little hunting.