Free Reign II
Apr 04, 2013 Web Exclusive
Remix albums have something of a deserved bad name: often lazily tossed off cash cows trying to convince the consumer to pay out for the same product twice. Yet another Blade Runner Director's Cut, if you like. Take one of the most prominent recent releases in the genre, Radiohead's TKOL RMX 1234567, in which one of the world's most creative bands took a bunch of songs that sounded like they'd been mixed by Four Tet and Burial and had them remixed by the likes of Four Tet and Burial.
As befits a band who insists on wearing surgical masks whilst performing, however, Liverpudlian post punks Clinic are not ones to be straightforward and follow the norm. Indeed, it could be that Free Reign II is a remix album in reverse; almost a "premix." The original plan for 2012's album Free Reign was for it to be mixed by acclaimed producer Daniel Lopatin, only for that plan to be scrapped (all bar two songs) and replaced with a sound that was... well, quintessential, reliable Clinic.
Detached coolness and Motorik are by now past the point of being staples in Clinic's sound and have just about reached the point of cliché. It's handy then that the band have Lopatin's original mixes at hand, allowing them a second shot at an unremarkable release. With the track order cheekily reversed, Free Reign II opens with a shimmering psychedelic haze and vocalist Ade Blackburn's Malcolm Mooney/Damo Suzuki hybrid impersonation no longer blending anonymously in with the Krautrock sound.
Freed by Lopatin from self-imposed sonic limitations, the tracks that last year seemed a little too ice cool, a little too glacial, soar and explore hitherto ignored depths. "You II" becomes a My Bloody Valentine-esque wall of guitar noise, "Cosmic Radiation II" (see a pattern with the titles?) benefits from allowing its cacophonous free jazz to run wild and free. (http://www.clinicvoot.org)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 8/10
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