Hailing from Portland, Oregon USA, Microfilm released their latest EP “Blips Don’t Lie” on 27 September 2009. A triple “A-side,” accompanied by a remix for each song, it is their second EP of the year. So I downloaded the EP and started to read through the tracks’ titles. I was instantly curious; how many people even know whom Billy Mackenzie is? Moreover, how many people would even reference him in a song’s title: “I’ll Sing Like Billy Mackenzie in Heaven”?
Billy Mackenzie was the lead singer to post-punk band The Associates. He committed suicide in 1997, and has been immortalized in the Cure’s song “Cut Here.” A man with an incredible voice, that was dramatic and distinct on par with Annie Lennox or David Bowie, citing a forefather and pioneer in music in a song’s title is brazen. But I have always thought that Microfilm (an ironic name for a digital band) was one of those electronic / house bands that could think outside of the box. And when you create house music that has a cinematic quality to it, a feat not easily accomplished in the genre, you earn the right to reference anyone you want. Both the official studio versions and the remixes are going to get you brushing off your old dance shoes, but what you are going to be most impressed with is how these songs are not cookie-cutter.
Their nouveau-house style does not fall into the trappings of others experimenting with the genre: this is far from rehash. Instead, the duo (Keppel and Mercer) use old school synth hooks in a new melodic way. And the beats are modern, not the standard get-ready-to-whoop beats of the 80s. “Water Drops on Burning Rocks” is the most impressive song in term of beats on the EP; in its official studio version, there is an element of counter beats, almost counter intuitive to what standard dance beats should be. And “His N’ Hers Hibernation” hearkens back to freestyle, but possesses more ambience and depth of sound than any earlier freestyle track that I know of. But the opening track, “I’ll Sing Like Billy Mackenzie in Heaven,” really puts forward what Microfilm is capable of. A driving beat with monotone vocals, highly electronic with Del Marquis adding the analogue guitar sound, highly crafted yet seemingly all over the place – this is not a study in contradictions. This is a study in bringing together many different ideas and masterfully making it work.
I really appreciate the fact that remixes really are remixes; each of the three songs are overhauled with new beats and rearranged. As I have said before, a good remix is a mix of the song that brings to light something new, something hidden and unheard before. A good remix is not a completely new song, but rather a song that has unraveled from the original. These three remixes accomplish just that.
If you were wondering, that is “I’ll Sing Like Billy Mackenzie in Heaven” you have been listening to in the background. Tantalized?
1. I’ll Sing Like Billy Mackenzie in Heaven – featuring Del Marquis
2. Water Drops on Burning Rocks – featuring Sarah Nixey
3. His N’ Hers Hibernation – featuring Kylie Minimoog
4. I’ll Sing Like Billy Mackenzie in Heaven – Astrolabe Remix
5. His N’ Hers Hibernation – Kid Whatever’s Bear Affair
6. Water Drops on Burning Rocks – Nine Devices Remix
Keep up with Microfilm at their homepage and MySpace.
Support the band and mosey on down to iTunes or Amazon.com and get yourself a copy of “Blips Don’t Lie.”