My thanks to the guys at Microfilm for keeping me in the loop. It is much appreciated!
Last autumn, Microfilm’s “I’ll Sing Like Billy Mackenzie in Heaven” enraptured me. What a clever song! What an odd, but welcomed, reference for an electronic house band! This is a band that has brains and aesthetics… this is a band that has the chops and confidence to do things differently, against the mind-numbing cliché of what passes as house music. Now, Microfilm releases their first compilation, a double album of singles and remixes: “I Am Curious (Microfilm): Collected 2006-2010 & I Am Rewired (Microfilm): Remixes 2006-2010” (11 May 2010). As the rule of thumb, SlowdiveMusic Blog shies away from reviewing compilations, but this, my friends, is no regular compilation. This is a testament to solid craftsmanship, to thinking outside of the box, and bringing house music back to what it is suppose to be.
The first “disc,” “I Am Curious (Microfilm): Collected 2006-2010” takes you on a journey from the first single, “Young Adult Fiction,” to the duo’s most recent tracks, including “Body Language,” a Queen cover. How many house musicians have the courage to cover Queen? Most rock bands do not… dare not, and yet Microfilm takes on the challenge with excellent results. The original track is one of Queen’s sexier songs, relying heavily on an alluring bass line and vocal arrangements. Microfilm subverts all of that; with affected vocal arrangements and a synth arpeggio to carry the song during the verse, the song is anything other than the conventional (make-believe) house song on the radio. This is ripe for a real dance floor, for lovers of house music, and those ready to hear a beat blaring over speakers. Other great moments including the opening track, the Brother Grimes Mix of “Young Adult Fiction” (dark, broody, bordering on electric body music) and “Free” (infectious, mesmerizing, impossible not to dance to). My personal favorite, “I’ll Sing Like Billy Mackenzie in Heaven” (featuring Del Marquis of Scissor Sisters), graces the collection.
I refuse to call the second “disc,” “I Am Rewired (Microfilm): Remixes 2006-2010,” a companion to the first. The second half is an intrinsically important as the first. The thing about house and electronic music is that it is wiser to think about “songs” as “tracks” that are not statically fixed, as they are in pop, rock, and other mainstream genres. And the concept of remixing is not just extending a song or creating something out of nothing – these are just passive, lazy ways to approach remixing, and quite boring. The purpose of remixing a track is to bring out a new, hidden dimension of the song. Sometimes the remixes have many similarities to the original, yet at other times the differences are distinct and obvious, but ultimately welcomed. Not only are they able to write great tracks in original format (as you hear in the first half of the collection), but also they are able to delve deep into their own tracks (and those of others) and bring out something new, something hidden, something distinct. To prove this fact, listen to the first version of “Young Adult Fiction,” then flip over to not one but two remixes of the track: the Arthur Rimbaud Mix and the Marcel Proust Remix – curiously enough both named after French writers. All three versions of this track are vibrant, urgent, and distinct; all three tracks bring out a new feeling of dark sensuality. “After Dark (Arena Cloudburst Mix)” is the one track I am stuck on the most. It is not often that you hear a real house song that seems to “hesitate,” but this one does, and yet does not distract from its invitation to dance – not an easy feat to pull off!
Take the plunge into the world of Microfilm – this is a perfect start for anyone not familiar with their music. From playful to dark, from pensive to carefree, this collection demonstrates every visceral aspect they can generate. And for those who want to learn about and/or discover real house music, then again this is an excellent starting point. This is a collection of vast imagination, house at its best, and electronic savvy that is uncompromising, unlike what has passed for house music for way too long. One word of advice: this collection is meant to be listened to really loud… blaring! Turn up the volume, imagine you are at some dark, somewhat seedy, club, and get lost in a two-hour adventure of visceral beats and hypnotizing soundscapes.
“I Am Curious (Microfilm): Collected 2006-2010”
1. Young Adult Fiction, Brother Grimes Mix
3. Ralf & Florian
5. Teenage Symphonies, Video Edit
6. Black Eyes, White Boys
8. International Velvet
10. I’ll Sing Like Billy MacKenzie in Heaven, featuring Del Marquis
11. Nothing Can Stop Us
12. Body Language
“I Am Rewired (Microfilm): Remixes 2006-2010”
1. Am I Ever Gonna Fall Apart in NYC?, Astrolabe’s Full Breakdown Remix
2. Young Adult Fiction, Arthur Rimbaud Mix
3. After Dark, OCD Soundsystem Mix
4. Disco Demolition Derby, Partying Slippers Mix
5. Teenage Symphonies, Little Darlings Mix
6. Hospitalized For Exhaustion, Kid Whatever Remix
7. After Dark, White Limousine Mix
8. Teenage Symphonies, Astrolabe’s Classic Club Cut
9. International Velvet, AngelTheory Remix
10. Young Adult Fiction, Marcel Proust Mix
11. After Dark, Area Cloudburst Remix
12. Teenage Symphonies, Olivia Hussey’s Reprise
Keep up with Microfilm at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Fairtilizer.
Here is their video for “Teenage Symphonies” from their YouTube Channel: WeAreMicrofilm.