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The Big Pink releases big letdown

BY ELLIOT ALPERN
For the Daily
Published November 7, 2010

Some may remember the Big Pink of 2009, a band with promising riffs and a certain attractive edginess that hinted at a strong future for the London natives. However, in the latest installment of mixtapes produced under independent German label !K7, The Big Pink of yesteryear is lost in a mix of electronic experimentation. The result is a relatively confused mess of remixed songs that, either by design or failure, have next to no common unity and even less appeal.

In a promotional website for the album, Milo Cordell (the lead singer and primary influence on the album's mixing) provides insight into the inspiration for his methodology. He describes his genre as “witch house” or “haunted house,” a new, unsettling mix of electronic house music coupled with a certain surreal ambience. As Cordell describes it, his contribution is a basic yet personal approach to mixing, much like the D.I.Y. nature brought on by the Internet. “People are making music six feet from their beds,” Cordell said on his website. “That’s always appealed to me and my label, Merok.”

The Big Pink’s Tapes starts off at a low standard and unsuccessfully attempts to dig itself out by the end of its 19 tracks. More than a couple of the songs are victims of overly experimental sampling. “Slow Dancing,” the first song, is a fusion of random interjections of what seems to be a gremlin singing underwater and a jarring drumbeat. Just when things appear to be improving with the soothing “Move On The Rain,” the track ends at just over a minute. Listeners are then subjected to about six minutes of traditional oriental music laid over an inappropriately random drum machine beat in “Ego War.”

That’s not to say the entire album is a loss. Take “Snake Eater.” Though it directly follows the one-two punch of strangeness at the beginning of the album, it's free of the surrounding foundation of mediocrity and shows real promise. Orchestral breaks create a sense of tension and buildup that, when interrupted with samples of vocals, come together to form a palatable and actually enjoyable piece of music.

At the album's end, the remixes become less about beats or random samplings and more about establishing an atmosphere. In some instances, it works: “Mumbai” is rather eerie, despite suffering from the same over-experimentation that plagues the entire album. However, the alluring promise of a remixed “Fantasy,” originally by the xx, is disappointing. It is brief and abrupt, and the evidence of any remixing is skimpy at best. The last track, entitled “Tetanus Wine,” is a fitting end to Tapes. The song, with its blend of synths and industrial drums, is loud, rough and ultimately unpleasant.

Tapes, though brimming with potential, ends up a solid letdown. The filler tracks, composed largely of synth and basic drums, are difficult to wade through and barely make the few promising remixes worth listening to in the first place. Tapes is worth avoiding more than anything else.