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Synth Album Review: "Distorted Remixes" by Leifendeth (and Guests)

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Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

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Initial Impressions

Leifendeth’s remix album Distorted Remixes utilizes the talented artists in the #synthfam to reinterpret his dark, threatening and industrial albums Distorted Transmissions 1 & 2. The diverse approaches that all of the remixers took still largely retain the shadowed energy and sense of threat of the original music, but take it in new and interesting directions that intrigue the ears in different ways.

When a musician allows other music makers to reinterpret and remix their work, there’s a danger that the remixers might lose the thread of what made the original music exciting or interesting. This is most definitely not the case with Distorted Remixes as all of the artists involved clearly grasp the dark feelings and emotional weight of the original work. Their own unique musical visions are respectful of Leifendeth’s work while still taking the tracks to sonically different places.

It seems to me that the collaborators on Distorted Remixes have all been well-chosen. Each of them has a strong musical voice of their own while also being able to mesh with what Leifendeth does on the original pieces. They are all strong enough as standalone artists that this album feels quite collaborative. I can sense the interaction between the creator of the tracks and the musicians who are reinterpreting his work, adding to the richness and diversity of the final sound.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

Rat Riley’s remix of “In The Lab” begins with bright piano chords in contrast to the static crackle, juddering drums and rough-edged synth patterns of the original. There’s a driving house beat with climbing chords and tambourine added which is frankly addictive. There’s bright flashes of piano before minor chores interlock to form a pattern over the dance floor driven beat. The high, fluting synth that plays a circling pattern of notes has a catchy quality to it that I enjoy. As the track continues, it redoubles its energy with broken notes over the pumping beat with warmer piano notes jumping in.

There’s a steady pulse of deep bass and the sweep of shadowy synths as Wraithwalker’s “Stealth Killer” remix opens. As in the original, the bass is Stygian although the beat is a great deal faster here. It retains the harsh, slicing quality of the original track with tense, tightly wound synth sounds over that rough, deep bass. The remix strongly emphasizes the tension of the original with a high synth wheeling and spinning in minor key patterns over that quick, slamming beat. There’s a twisted whorl of sound that is ferociously driven forward in this track.
The ominous feeling that Wraiithwalker creates in the remix only makes it more engaging and nerve-wracking than the original.

The “Pandemic (Dance MF Dance mix)” by Upon Eventual Collapse runs with the hard driving industrial feeling of the original track that had rising, dark waves of edgy bass and shifting synth patterns that lacerated the ears. In the remix, there’s the sound of rain and a quick cascading of percussion to open before growling synth and an aggressive beat slam into the track. Leaping minor synth notes flicker through the music, full of raging energy over the pounding bass. Everything is slicing and aggressive, full of a feeling of destruction. The drums have a hard quality to as the growling lyrics slice mercilessly through the track. The level of threat, pain and harshness in this track is truly ramped up to striking proportions by Upon Eventual Collapse to good effect.

There’s a rather darker, more twisted feeling in the “Shortwave Shift (Call Out Mix)” by Sapphira Vee than in the original that felt lighter than Leifendeth’s usual sound with a winding and bright synth with a minor quality. It still had a pounding beat and forceful quality, but tempered. Sapphira Vee’s remix opens with oscillating harsh sounds, all sharp and hard, along with an uneven stuttering drum pattern. Those synth patterns soon accompany a wash of wandering, gentle synth that adds a mysterious quality that I feel drawn to. Sapphira Vee also adds disembodied vocals that feel haunting as they move through. There is a balance between aggression and a lost, wandering feeling in the remix which I felt was quite effective.

Flamingo Jones’ mix of “Troubled Times” is a divergent take on the original that was highly industrial and full of nervous tension and mounting shadows. The remix slides down the retro pathway with waves of synth that wash through the track along with retro drums that rebound into the track. The melody is melody is picked out on a high synth which quickly transforms into a sliding, cascading synth solo that I really got into. The constant return of the sample referring to Chernobyl is the one tense element that persists. This is a much lighter, more energized interpretation than the original track, without losing the essence that made the original work.

“Dead Signal” as remixed by Baying Ridges shares the same feeling of portent and danger as the original, along with its ambient sensibilities and the weight of the music, but adds even more ominous feelings to the music. A deep wash of heavy bass drones into the music along with distorted vocal samples. There’s a burst of heavy, oppressive sound that I feel makes the track even more threatening along with a hard-to-define synth sound that feels a bit like a deep bell to me. There is tension from high, broken chimes that add a ghostly threat to the track. The shadows rise around one’s ears here.

In contrast to the rapid, cutting synth patterns of the original track “Lost Future (Kizunaut mix)” is slower and perhaps more technological in nature. It still retains all of the feelings of lurking danger of the original, but builds more slowly. A pattern of synth rises and falls over the shadowed bass underneath, brighter but still minor key and full of weight, as a heavily pulsating beat smacks into the track. I am drawn to the hard-edged, mechanical synth that cuts into the music over the drive underneath it. There’s a slamming percussive sound, hollow and deep, while nervous, high synths cascade and fall all over each other. Kizunaut captures the essence of the original while adding his own touches.

Verdict

The weight, shadow and sensation of creeping threat that permeate the original albums that Distorted Remixes reinterprets are all alive and well in the music here. All of the different remixers have distinctive and unique musical voices that stand out while still honouring the integrity of Leifendeth’s source material.