- When you think of Fennesz, you probably don't think of beats: The laptopping guitarist tends to conjure free-floating worlds of pure texture, untethered to anything as corporeal as a pulse. It wasn't always thus, however. On 1997's stark Hotel Paral.lel, his bubbling bit-stream was often filtered through a sieve of fractured breakbeats and 4/4 kicks. "Fa" sounded like Fennesz' response to Wolfgang Voigt's Gas project, with his own digitally pulverized fretwork in place of swollen classical samples—a sea of sound rolling relentlessly forward over a thudding bass drum. (The Apolo club, a Barcelona techno institution, lies just down the road from the actual Hotel Paral.lel that presumably gave the album its name; it's tempting to think that Fennesz may have gleaned his beats from sheer proximity, as the club's kick drums wormed their way up from the sewer pipes.)
This new version of "Fa" doesn't immediately sound tremendously different from the original—a little fuller, maybe, and a little cleaner; one would imagine that Rashad Becker's 12-inch cut brings an added dimension that you won't get from MP3. At nine minutes long, however, the new version is twice as long as its predecessor, and the song's headbanging hypnosis benefits from the added running time. Vast, melancholy, and curiously abstracted, it's meant to be lived in for a while.
Mark Fell's remix follows a similar trajectory, digging into an 11-minute grind of hangdog chords and scattershot drums that swells and recedes, swells and recedes. After the clarity of most of Fell's work, the grit here comes as something of a shock; his stuttering kick drums sound like heavy metal blast beats, while his hi-hats suggest Oval attempting a house track after about seven cups of coffee. For some reason, he throws in a Martin Luther King speech, albeit mixed so low that it's reduced to almost to the level of pure texture. Busy without feeling cluttered, groovy almost in spite of itself, it's an appropriately immersive counterpart to its inspiration.
A Fa 2012
B Fa (Mark Fell Remix)