- M_nus is back. And they’ve brought bitches. 25 of them to be exact. Building on a recent string of impressive releases from Magda, Berg Nixon (aka Ryan Crosson) and Gaiser, the latest M_nus outing, ’25 Bitches’, is spearheaded by one of the hottest names around, Troy Pierce. Add in remixes by Matt John, Marc Houle, Gaiser, Crosson and Heartthrob over two vinyls and the result is a mini-label showcase which does an excellent job of reminding us why Richie Hawtin’s outfit is at the forefront of (minimal) techno today.
The source of all this trouble is Pierce. Supposedly the track came about as a joke while stuck in an airport, but this definitely deserves to be taken seriously. It begins with a looping vocal saying ’25 bitches’ which is continuously distorted, pulled apart and pieced back together throughout the number. An elastic bassline and drums rebound against the ‘bitches’ sample, which drives proceedings. It ticks over, builds well and the clever tweaking of the sample attached to a driving bass makes for a rocking number. The ingenuity of the original lies in its simplicity. This is a pretty straightforward workout by Pierce, but he handles it in such a manner that DJs are left with a catchy tune perfect for reenergizing flagging dancefloors.
Ryan Crosson under his Berg Nixon alias provides two takes on Pierce’s bitches. The A2, ‘Berg Nixon Edit’, is a much better track than it first seems. In comparison to the brashness of the original, this edit is a rather understated number that might slip under the radar. It is funked up glitch house, which really gets interesting about half way through when some sonics join the subtle glitches, pops and hisses that rain over the majority of the track. It is, however, not as strong as his ‘ZigZag Remix' on the B side. This version has been getting a right caning by Magda and you can immediately hear why – it has that minimal funk she purveys so well. The ‘ZigZag Remix' is a fun, off-key number with beautiful percussives that keep it bouncing along. The track quickly gets ahead of itself, speeding up, running too fast until it falls over, kicks and starts off again. This version strays both from the original and from some of Crosson’s other productions, but there is nothing wrong with that as it is a great little piece. In providing the strongest cut on the first volume, Crosson reminds us why he is one to watch.
The other remix on the first vinyl comes from Matt John, another relative newcomer who has been turning heads, most notably with a pair of killer EPs on Perlon. His take involves stripping back the original and giving it a more minimal feel. He keeps the vocals and bass but puts a knife to everything leaving the track with a cut up, stuttering feel. This is a remix in the true sense of the word – he largely uses all the material found in the original but rearranges and reworks it into something new and equally appealing. John’s version works very well in complementing the other numbers on Volume 1. It is not as playful as the original or the Zigzag remix, but is more appealing to those looking to build a sleek, stripped down set of polished minimal.
On the second volume, it is Gaiser’s ‘Too Many Bitches Makeover’ that takes centre stage. This is the remix that has been wreaking havoc over the last couple of months, with Hawtin using it to deadly effect in his sets. The track is reminiscent of Gaiser’s huge ‘Egress’ from his M_nus debut, ‘And Answer’, with both having a similarly impressive combo of carefully manipulated vocal samples and killer bass kicks. Basically this remix takes the original and gives it a beating. The ‘bitches’ sample remains central, but it is Gaiser’s super deep bass and sonics which run the show. This cut has two monstrous kicks that are absolutely perfect for peaktime – the distorted vocal set the scene for the buildup and when the bass kicks arrive, dancefloor mayhem is sure to ensure. This is a serious weapon and clearly the strongest version on both records.
The 'Marc Houle Remix' on the flip is a solid number and works well, but perhaps doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the release. The BPMs on this are faster and it has that Houle electro-throwback feel about it. A bouncy bassline, old school snares and the ‘25 bitches’ sample put through a laser machine make for an uptempo number, but it doesn’t stack up so well when compared to the other remixes. The 'Heartthrob Mix' which fills out the B side suffers from similar problems of comparison. It is actually pretty good, but will probably have trouble finding its way onto the decks simply because the other versions are so strong. Heartthrob keeps pretty close to the original, but adds some texture to the bass and a slightly haunting element which gives it a slightly edgy feel. In many ways, the Matt John mix does something reasonably similar but is probably more effective. This version could come into play, though, if the DJ wants something a bit darker. The result of these B sides is the second volume being not quite as strong as the first one. Houle and Heartthrob both provide well executed mixes but perhaps lack a bit of the charm or impact some of the others do. The Gaiser mix, however, is brilliant and enough to make this record an essential purchase.
Ever since Richie and the gang started dropping different versions of ‘25 Bitches’ last year, minimal fans have been desperately waiting for these tracks to hit vinyl. M_nus has rewarded our patience with an impressive double release that should satisfy even the most maximal of minimal appetites. The original and the ‘Zigzag’ remix are the crème of the first volume, while the second one is all about Gaiser’s monster effort. Absolutely essential.
A1 25 Bitches (Original)
A2 25 Bitches (Berg Nixon Edit)
B1 25 Bitches (Matt John's 25 Pitches Remix)
B2 25 Bitches (Berg Nixon ZigZag Remix)
A 25 Bitches (Gaiser's Too Many Bitches Makeover)
B1 25 Bitches (Marc Houle Remix)
B2 25 Bitches (Heartthrob Remix)