Remix albums are a gamble. They’re often uninspired, absent of daring, and leave any sense of ingenuity to the original mixes. On the other side of the spectrum is a small handful of remix albums that attempt to spin the originals so much that they stand as completely separate works. In the same company as Bjork’s Telegram, Beck’s Guerolito leans toward a different soundscape from his March release and attempts to exist as an individual album rather than a companion piece. It succeeds at being both.
Handpicked by Beck himself, the cast of musicians on Guerolito reads like a who’s who of electronic music. Air, Boards of Canada, Diplo, El-P, Dust Brothers, and Adrock of the Beastie Boys all take a stab at reworking Beck’s tunes to varying degrees of success.
8-Bit’s “Ghettochipp Malfunction (Hell Yes)” improves on the original recording, sampling the bleeps and boops of a 1989 NES cartridge to create a trippy, mind melting experience. Mixes of “Wish Coin (Go It Alone)” and “Broken Drum” by Diplo and Boards of Canada, respectively, would fit well on a chill mix. The only problematic moments occur sporadically when DJ’s take the standard remix approach, manipulating speeds and time signatures a’la Fatboy Slim. This occurs sparingly, and doesn’t disrupt the whole of the ride.
Guerolito manages to stay cohesive not because of the solid ground material, but because of the consistency in new substance. A new ambiance has been thrust into an already solid work. It seems less a companion piece, and more a stand alone album. Those that enjoyed Guero will certainly appreciate Guerolito’s distinctive approach. Curious parties should opt for the original, but certainly not disregard the new mixes.
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