Sometimes, music is business. Can we stop pretending that even the best indie rock bands with the smallest audiences are, at the end of the day, trying to promote their work and reach larger audiences? If that means releasing a clone of MGMT’s breakthrough hit “Kids” to build a good audience upfront, than so be it.
Electronic music has been aware of this plight for a very long time. Since the beginning of the UK’s nefarious head-bobbing in obscure dance clubs dating back to the 70’s, electronic artists found the formula and ran with it all the way across the sea and into the states. This ‘music as business’ preconception is no more apparent than in remixes. Yes, some wonderfully creative artists have carved a career out of remixing, including Pittsburgh’s own Girl Talk, but many remix albums and artists have failed to be, um, any good at all.
Despite this, we cannot immediately balk at the idea of Rob Bailey and the Hustle Standard (featuring Charley Hustle himself) teaming up to remix their very own 2013 release, The Beast. For one, the Beast is really really good. Stressing contemporary nu-metal with Pendulum-like backbeats and aggressive rap-styled chorus hooks, the pair found a niche they can embrace. The Beast Remix: Axes and Anchors subdues a lot of those scratchy guitars with massive drops and finessed pulsating beats for a release that is quite welcoming. It does not reinvent the wheel of a traditional remix album. But for those that enjoyed the original record will find a lot to appreciate from these re-envisioned Frankenstein’s of a former vision.
The group also happens to add some serious weight to these songs that go beyond the immediate breakdown, slow build, and Niagara Falls-size drop that gets even the depressed just recently ditched guys hugging the corner gravitating towards the middle of the floor. They accomplish this through some classic instrumentation. Cellos are accented between some more quaint piano work. It may not appease the hard-lined techno clubheads, but it makes for a good listen outside the one trick pony of the club headbanger.
Mark Rapp is, unequivocally, the best remix artist at the plate. He is not necessarily considered a traditional remix artist, more known for melding less contemporary and typical sounds into his sonic repertoire. His work on the release elevates it from being a decent download to a worthy inclusion to that hopefully big electronica label in your iTunes folder.
But the main man here is Rob Bailey- and that is not just in the music. Bailey is a known businessman. He has the suaveness and wit to navigate independent fashion, entrepreneurial expansions, and design both online and off. Bailey presses his business knowledge to the project, which is exactly what makes the Beast remix album exist at all. But it is his and his group’s knack for a great club song that makes it worth the dive.