Have you ever found yourself in a place where you asked for a remix album? Remixes, though potentially unnecessary to some degree—and often a way for artists to sustain relevance of old material—are special in terms of production. Sometimes a remix can fix previous production issues in tracks while adding something new to the original song. Moreover, remixes allow for artists to collaborate with other artists by allowing them to remix the song with their own pastiche of genre and style, many times creating a remix that sounds quite far from the original.
On paper, a remix album sounds like a glorified cover album that permits the original material to fluidly move between genres and textural sounds. In practice, remix albums often lead to bizarre and ill-advised decisions. After the release of 2020’s “Miss Anthropocene,” electronic music and pop artist Grimes put out her newest remix album, “Miss Anthropocene (Rave Edition),” which exhibits a stripped back interpretation of many songs that were, in fact, perfectly good the way they were. It’s not unusual that EDM artists put out dance remix albums; in fact, a large portion of remix albums are produced with EDM accessibility in mind. “Miss Anthropocene” was an album packed to the brim with dance beats in its original version, but what did Grimes’ onslaught of new producers do to help?
Well, they added more beats. Beats might be the wrong word—every song gained a bass drum rhythm that both sounds like an annoying metronome throughout and also detracts from the much more diverse beats Grimes originally had. For the most part, Grimes is completely absent from these songs, aside from the surprisingly fleeting instances where her singing is spliced in, sometimes as the only melody to the song. One of the main reasons these remixes drag on for so long is that every single track has been extended, some to the length of ten whole minutes. Of nothing but the same bass beat, over and over.
That said: this is a rave album. It’s not trying to be groundbreaking. Honestly, it’s not trying to be as texturally or technically interesting as the original “Miss Anthropocene” because the “Rave Edition” is just meant to be danced to. You might hear it in a club somewhere, but the songs have been so disemboweled of identity that they’re close to sounding like royalty-free techno.
Despite the amount of producers each individually working on a track, they do very little to distinguish themselves from one another. The only remix that stood apart was the REZZ Remix of “Violence,” which benefits from sticking to the original track’s three-minute runtime and keeping Grimes at the center of the mix. If every remix on “Rave Edition” had the energy and pomp of “Violence,” then this could have been as lush a dance album as its predecessor.
Ultimately, remixes suffer from so much expectation of living up to their original material that it’s almost easy to predict that a remix is going to be poor once it’s announced. Do we want remixes to be bad? Of course not. A good remix ought to pay homage and add something new to its original—much like a good cover. Remixes are an opportunity for the original artists and producers to take a step back and for other artists to share in the creative energy of songs they love. This appreciation rarely renders itself in remixes, though, which just leads to most remix albums eliciting unanimous shrugs from their fanbases. Unfortunately for Grimes, this had to happen to “Miss Anthropocene,” one of her best albums, and arguably one of the best pop albums of 2020.
You can attempt to listen to “Miss Anthropocene: Rave Edition,” on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/7rhiEqTIsswhakIAfpq2tr?si=u6k86nBQTzqGbjNrpG160w