Playing a part

This week I worked on another interesting project that originated on the Ninja Tune Forum.

It's a remix of a remix and the idea is that each participant remixes the previous participants work and passes it along. At the end, the original track and the successive remixes are collected together for release.

It picks up on some of the methodologies of other Ninja Tune Forum projects.

When I first started visiting the site about a decade ago there were regular remix competitions, where the winner would provide the track and parts for the next round.

Another inspiration would be the relay mixes, where each participant is given the previous section of a mix to follow on from and only hears the complete mix once it is stitched together at the end by the person overseeing the project.

These Forum projects are organised by people on the Forum and not the Ninja Tune label but some of the label's artists have taken an interest in the results and there have also been opportunities to work Ninja Tune tracks.

There's a large output of mixes and original music on the Forum and I think it's testament to the creativity and collegiality of the people on there. It's a great community.

My recent remix was an interesting challenge because the parts lacked a melodic component to link it back to the original tune.

Another challenge was my position as third. It's not usually the point in the sequence of an album where you find a big track, more likely something that lets the pace ease up a bit so you can ramp it up again before the end of the first side or slow it down further for a ballad.

I know it doesn't have to be a dud spot but I can see a lot of logic in that sort of progression and it's a view shared in the film High Fidelity:

You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.

This reminds me of an interview I did with Canberra DJ Ben Henderson a while ago. He was organising music nights at Montezuma's Restaurant at the time and explained his philosophy in picking tunes by saying that one needs to be conscious of their part in the line-up.

"To me the ideal night involves getting a group of people together who share common tastes and building them up for a climax," says Ben. "You point every track you play towards that pinnacle. There's no logic in getting five DJs together and having each of them trying to get to the finish line. It used to be that DJs would spend six hours gradually building up to that one moment when everyone would go off. It's like a competition these days in which everybody gets up and does a 100-metre sprint as each DJ pulls out their five best tracks to impress the crowd."

So I set about remixing the track to be a build-up while giving a treatment that fits with my ideas of a bassling sound, particularly in emphasising the lower register.

I'm looking forward to hearing the final release to see if I've managed to play my part.