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The Notwist - Different Cars and Trains

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Artist: The Notwist

Album: Different Cars and Trains

Label: Domino

Review date: Jan. 27, 2004

It may not be particularly worthwhile, or even possible, to try and define once and for all what exactly a remix is and what it’s supposed to do. If recent releases are any indication, though, remixes are first and foremost tracks released as filler for stop-gap EPs, which the original artists (whose names still grace the album covers) have little or nothing to do with. Such is certainly the case with the thoroughly disappointing Different Cars and Trains, the first US release by the Notwist since their excellent 2002 album Neon Golden.

Different Cars and Trains offers four remixes of songs from Neon Golden, as well as the new track “Red Room.” There’s little here to get excited about, however, given the fact that the new track is less a true Notwist recording than an electronic B-side throwaway (similar to those that were released as bonus tracks on the US version of Neon Golden), and that the remixes range in quality from abysmally dull to half-way decent, but disposable.

The Notwist’s Martin Gretschmann (a.k.a. Console) contributes remixes of “Neon Golden” and “Pilot,” both of which employ the same simplistic and ineffective approach of coupling repetitive pulsating dance beats with the existing songs. Gretschmann’s additions sound rather ridiculous next to the stark instrumentation and vocals of the original tracks; his dance-oriented approach is entirely inappropriate to the material, and renders what was once humanly sublime lifeless and mechanical. Neither remix shows any particular invention or imagination, and both sound like they were turned out on demand, simply to fill up space on this album.

The Four Tet and Manitoba remix of “This Room” fares a good deal better, taking samples from the original track as raw materials for an entirely new creation. The results, however, sound more like some from Four Tet’s Rounds than anything remotely related to “This Room”; if any one deserves credit on the album cover here, it’s Kieran Hebden, and not the Notwist. The remaining remix, “Different Cars and Trains” by Loopspool, takes it’s title from a lyric in “Pilot,” but apparently bears so little resemblance to the original that the Notwist saw fit to give it a different title. As an atmospheric electro-dub diversion, it’s a decent piece of work in itself, but offers little to listeners looking for new variations on Notwist material. “Red Room,” the sole new track, is the work of Martin Gretschmann and Notwist (and Ms. John Soda) member Micha Acher. This primarily electronic instrumental, while pleasant enough, bears little resemblance to anything on Neon Golden, and those looking forward to new Notwist material will surely be disappointed.

It’s unfortunate that as strong an album as Neon Golden had to be followed by something as weak (and likely commercially motivated) as Different Cars and Trains. Listeners looking forward to a real new Notwist album will just have to wait a bit longer. Chances are that by that point Different Cars and Trains will have faded into musical obscurity, little more than an insignificant and inconsequential speed bump in the Notwist’s career.

By Michael Cramer

Other Reviews of The Notwist

Neon Golden

The Devil, You + Me

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