- When Joe "Hot Chip" Goddard started the Greco-Roman imprint in 2007 with the help of friends Alex Full Nelson and Dom Mentsh, it was meant to be a stylistically messy affair. Which is no surprise, really, considering membership in Hot Chip necessitates writing and producing lovely electro-indie songs about bromance and monkeys, remixing artists from all corners of the pop spectrum, performing tag-team DJ sets and recording mix CDs that effortlessly go from Dominik Eulberg to Joe Jackson.
Nonetheless, the players and the sounds of From the Seat of Mount Olympus are so diverse that everyone would have benefited from its ordering into some sort of overarching narrative. Instead, the label's first five releases—previously available only on 12-inch—are packaged into a five CD-single box set, puzzlingly defying the very purpose of a label compilation.
The label's first release, David E. Sugar's "Oi New York, This is London," is fidget house at its silly best, a feeling that is all but enhanced by the bouncy remix of scene-definer Jesse Rose, but both the Hot Chip and Skream remixes add very little to the original (the latter being quite disappointing) and should have been left on the side. Buraka Som Sistema fully indulge their inner baile funk star on "Kalemba," yet it can't help to sound like sub-M.I.A., a feeling even Hot Chip's remix can't seem to alleviate.
Drums of Death offers "Breathe," a weirdly rawboned cut that peppers Atari's Galaxia-like exploding sounds on top of repetitively saccadic drum patterns that never find a sense of purpose or even release. The Drop the Lime remix barely salvages it, considering all it really does is accelerate the tempo. Thankfully, "Cursed by Magick" and "Midnight Stalker" fare way better, thanks to a grime-like rap and an attention to melody the main track lacks. Finally, there is the electro-house (if that tag even means anything nowadays) of recent recruit Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs whose name perfectly mirrors the puerile nature of their own productions.
Grovesnor's "Drive Your Car" from ex-Hot Chip member Robert Smoughton is by far the best thing on here. It's the kind of mournful, bitter-sweet indie-pop Hot Chip themselves know how to meticulously fashion, and it is especially rousing thanks to Smoughton's heartfelt singing. Pointlessly, it also comes in an unnecessary, almost jazzier version, while the Oliver $ remix goes for the fidgety jugular, this time to less convincing effect.
By refusing to pick and organize its most iconic moments for us, the Greco-Romans force the listeners to carve their own path through an eclectic and unfortunately uneven selection. Truth be told, From the Seat of Mount Olympus is the degree zero of what a compilation should be and should do. In the age of immediate digital availability, asking us to make sense, on five distinct CD singles, of the very mess the label has created is a Herculean task even the most dedicated Hot Chip fans won't have time or will to entertain.
Disc 1: David E. Sugar - Oi New York This Is London
01. Oi New York This Is London
02. Oi New York This Is London (Hot Chip vs. Ragga Twins remix)
03. Oi Berlin This Is London" (Skream remix)
04. Oi Berlin This Is London" (Jesse Rose vocal)
Disc 2: Grovesnor - Drive Your Car
01. Drive Your Car
02. Drive Your Car (Grovesnor's Rebel Quarter version)
03. Drive Your Car (Hot Chip remix)
04. Drive Your Car (Oliver $ remix)
Disc 3: Buraka Som Sistema - Kalemba
02. Kalemba (Hot Chip remix)
Disc 4: Drums Of Death - Steps Into The Ring EP
02. Breathe (Drop The Lime remix)
03. Cursed By Magick
04. Midnight Stalker
Disc 5: Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - All In One Sixty Dancehalls EP
02. Moon Hits The Mirrorball
03. Sickly Child
04. Moon Hits The Mirrorball (2 Bad Mice remix)