- Nina Kraviz, Prins Thomas and Cassius reshape indie rock into techno, house and disco.
- Remixing Franz Ferdinand must be tricky. When the Scottish band was at its most hyped in the mid-'00s, a raft of big-name dance music producers—including Morgan Geist, Daft Punk, Lindstrøm, Justice—reimagined the group's work. Some were so-so, others were remarkably bad. (Daft Punk's version of "Take Me Out," the worst of the lot, lifted the overdriven screech from "Rollin' & Scratchin'" and made it insufferable.) The few remixes that excelled—by Erol Alkan, Playgroup and Naum Gabo, AKA JG Wilkes from Optimo—were sympathetic to the source material, and essentially "got" what made Franz Ferdinand tick. It probably helped that all three were in close proximity to the crowds who ate up the indie-dance crossovers of that period.
Cassius and Prins Thomas, hardly strangers to that world, both tackle "Always Ascending," the excellent lead single from Franz Ferdinand's latest LP. So too does Nina Kraviz, who remixes it three times. Cassius go nuts on the cowbells and hand drums, and the four-note synth riffs seem to play off the original's chuggy guitar. It's a solid remix, but it's outshone by Prins Thomas's leisurely turn. The hand drums, laser pings and earthy bass are standard nuts and bolts of the Norwegian artist's sound. Crucially, though, the original's best elements—Alex Kapranos's vocals and the Shepard Tone swirl—remain central, and mingle nicely with the understated space disco vibe. The results sounds as much like Prins Thomas's as they do Franz Ferdinand's.
Kraviz, a shrewd choice for any remix package, is reliably weird on her remixes but not always captivating. The "House Version" is three minutes of dislocated vocals, stubby bass and, for the Russian artist, a surprisingly full drum kit. But the ingredients collide awkwardly, and the cries for "water" and "bananas" from Kraviz and Kapranos echo in an unappealing void. The "Late Night Remix," on the other hand, is top drawer. The vocals, for one, are a lot more consequential to the mix. Kraviz's syllables ripple out in ghoulish registers, then fall into the rhythm's slipstream. Its X-factor, though, comes from the chime shimmer that dazzles in the upper range. The "Techno" remix falls somewhere between these two poles. The low-end is enticingly swampy, but at best it's a tool that would need a few other layers to make it as spellbinding as the "Late Night" version.
Always Ascending Remixes
01. Always Ascending (Cassius Remix)
02. Always Ascending (Prins Thomas Remix)
03. Always Ascending (Nina Kraviz House Remix)
Nina Kraviz v Franz Ferdinand
01. Always Ascending (Nina Kraviz Techno Remix)
02. Always Ascending (Nina Kraviz Late Night Remix)