Cologne-based Sonae’s second album I Started Wearing Black landed this past spring like a spray of birdshot. Sonia Güttler’s powerful style filled headphones with meticulously detailed, anti-minimalist electronics. Every pull of the trigger hit multiple marks.
It’s hard to imagine more formidable material from which to assemble a remix disc. The four artists invited to contribute to Wearing Black Remixes have a lot to work with, and a lot to live up to.
Electric Indigo opens the disc with a remix of “Majority Vote.” Interestingly, it is the only one of the four tracks that matches the run time of the original track exactly. It is hardly a carbon copy though. A lot of the same beats are there, but the mood is lighter. Where the original builds to an apex of warzone noise, the remix maintains a more even keel.
Next is Lucrecia Dalt’s good-humored take on “Rust.” She’s taken the ungritty elements of Güttler’s original and produced a cleaner, more linear version. While it is one of the more recognizable remixes offered here, it resonates differently than does the original.
“Soul Eater” is a real highlight from I Started Wearing Black. Its textured ambience provided a welcome contrast to the noisier aspects of the album. Natalie TBA Beridze opens her remix with a dull machete blade that slices right through all of that. What follows is similarly atmospheric but also menacing and complicated enough to keep us on edge.
Finally, “White Trash Rouge Noir” gets a makeover by La Leif. It is the closest we get to actually wanting to dance on this collection of electronic remixes. Where Güttler’s version presents us banging just as likely to be made by a plumber as a musician, La Leif offers a set of rather pleasant electrobeats.
It’s difficult to overstate the impression left by Sonae’s full album. It remains a highlight of 2018, and will almost certainly be on this blog’s best-of list. So while this remix effort is unlikely to be received as superior to the original, that was probably never in the cards. It is a suitably reverent tribute.