Perhaps inspired by his own remixing of prog rockers King Crimson’s back catalogue, the latest experimental offering from Steven Wilson - best known as the founder of frequently unclassifiable rock band Porcupine Tree and for his work with Opeth - is a six-track remix EP of four songs from his album (the first released under Wilson’s own name) ‘Insurgentes’, which came out in March.
In fact, King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto returns the favour here with a remix of ‘Salvaging’.
‘Insurgentes’ was a staggering blend of Kosmiche, drone, post-rock and shoegaze, and the six guests here make the most of dismantling and building up Wilson’s intricate building blocks, some more successfully than others. Belgian drone artist Fear Falls Burning’s mix of ‘Get All You Deserve’ is reduced to drones of different volumes, without great texture or dynamism, apart from when Wilson’s original vocal and guitar sneak in snippets. Whereas heavy hip-hop pioneers Dälek’s take on the same track builds upon a subterranean drone with a crisp, sinister beat; machines creaking and whirring and rushes of noise, but still allow enough space for Wilson’s Thom Yorke-like voice to echo in, looping to no clear conclusions.
The highest profile guest is probably TV On The Radio’s David Sitek, whose Magnetized Nebula mix of ‘Insurgente’s’ only single, ‘Harmony Korine’, adds extra layers of foreboding via a dense, metallic synth squelch and pounding fuzz. Fortunately, he allows the original’s surging, shoegaze chorus to break through on a number of occasions.
Both re-versions of ‘Abandoner’ work around a lush, tumbling piano refrain. Engineers ad dreamy washes of noise, while online competition winner £ukasz Langa’s Danse Macabre mix uses very deep trance and monks’ chanting to theatrical rather than cinematic effect. Both are quite sparse though, unlike Mastelotto’s take on ‘Salvaging’ - industrial rock with the springs loose. Fluid bass and scattered drums eventually bounce into a swaggering, squalling groove; accompanied by strings that sound tribal one moment and as sentimental as Disney the next. Unfortunately this tempo isn’t sustained, and things return to a multi-instrument but uneventful drone. No doubt whatever Wilson does with King Crimson’s back catalogue in return will be equally fascinating and frustrating.