There's a rule of thumb in Hollywood that says the more screenwriters that are attached to a film, the bigger the mess. It's tempting to apply the same yardstick to Louderbach's Shine EP, which includes nine remixes. Nine! Remember when Rakim said "Wicked as I kicked it, no need to remix it?" What happened to that ethos?
An ongoing collaboration between Troy Pierce and Gibby Miller, Louderbach's latest single is a gloomy echo of the paranoid electro-eyeliner sound that was perfected by Adult. ten years ago. Miller does a terrific Ian Curtis impersonation with dead-eyed lyrics about his emotions while Pierce pegs the vocals to a spare electro-rock rendition of a Depeche Mode ballad. The result is an undeniably catchy slice of retro synthpop, but the homage is so carefully posed that it's nearly lifeless. "Shine" also suffers from bad timing, given that groups such as Poni Hoax and She Wants Revenge have already cannibalized '80s no/new wave with more guts and daring.
With such unimaginative source material, it's hard to justify an EP of remixes and it's even more difficult to put your mind around nine of them—particularly when they all sound remarkably similar. One wonders if M_nus intended the digital version of Shine to be treated as a DJ-friendly menu of subtly differentiated products rather than a proper release that would be heard from end-to-end. Perhaps such formal distinctions don't matter anymore; regardless of intention, M_nus brought all nine remixes to market. Here they are, ranked from least-to-most interesting.
1. JPLS Club Mix. The original version pitched up and pushed through a delay effect.
2. JPLS Hard Mix. Same as above, but "hard" means no vocals or delay effect.
3. Mike Bryant's Room 237 Remix. Oddly clipped vocals that build tension for a climax that never arrives.
4. Mike Bryant's Eerie Von Remix. Several quasi-Booka Shade synths pinned to a ticking beat; not very eerie.
5. Swayzak 99p Mix. Opens with some ambient drift as drawn-out chords underpin a non-descript patchwork of vocal samples and drums.
6. Berg Nixon Mix. A slow build-up to a stripped-down drum kit, an upbeat whistle and a helicopter somewhere in the background.
7. Alexi Delano Mix. Jittery basement style with rubberband effects in the spirit of Clink Records.
8. Bruno Pronsato Mix. Meandering and emotional with pretty guitars on a skeletal framework.
9. Thrill Cosby's Broken Door Mix. Heavy breathing vocals that evoke the glam attitude of a classic Superpitcher track, but without the shuffle.If anything, Shine highlights the problem with digital releases: production costs are nil and distribution is dirt cheap, so why not include nine remixes? The lack of financial constraints, however, means that digital releases are the most reliable barometer of a label's standard of quality control. In the case of M_nus, the bar needs to be raised eight or nine notches.