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Music Review: Sasha – The emFire Collection: Mixed, Unmixed & Remixed

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The original tracks for Sasha's emFire label were released digitally and on decorative vinyl. (I previously reviewed the tracks "Coma" and  "Park in the Shade".) The tracks were long, the build very techy and unique, and even if some of them weren't among Sasha's best, they were at the very least examples of his ongoing prowess as a producer, displaying intricate and evolving layers of sound moreso than obvious melodic lines. But they were good, and in theory would have made a worthy excuse for a collective set such as this one.

But The emFire Collection: Mixed, Unmixed & Remixed isn't quite the complete collection that many might have hoped for. It focuses on the "mixed" and "remixed" portions of its subtitles and largely forgets the third part.

The first disc in the set is made up of remixes from four different remix outfits, on the four different singles. Each remixer presents both a club mix, as well as a more downtempo mix, of their assigned track. It's unfortunate that this both begins the set and comprises the bulk of the material. Mainly because the remixes aren't that strong, and neither do they have much to do with the original tracks, generally speaking. The Field's Disco Mix of "Mongoose" bucks the trend a bit and is a nice interpretation, but other than that we're presented with mostly plodding and monotonous takes on Sasha's at least intricate and inventive originals.

Disc Two is leagues more interesting, but still isn't complete. It's divided into two parts, the first being edits of most of the original tracks, as well as a remix of "Coma." On the whole, the edits are successful. The original tracks were very long-breathed, so it's not a difficult task to distill them down while still retaining the bulk of the material. In fact, many may prefer these versions, in a cut-to-the-chase sort of way. The Spangled Rubdub mix of "Coma" is also quite nice, and to be honest is probably what should have been the template for Disc One.

The latter part of Disc Two is, for many, perhaps the main draw. It is the soundtrack Sasha put together for the surfing documentary New Emissions of Light and Sound. Although it is largely downtempo, it retains the distinctive Sasha flair that made Airdrawndagger and Involver such coveted releases by fans. Clocking in at around forty-two minutes, the soundtrack is all mixed together as a single set of both new and reworked Sasha material. In addition to a couple of Airdrawndagger tracks, as well as a more stripped down version of "Coma", it presents a lot of previously unreleased material that is quite nice.

There are actually two downsides to the documentary score. The first is that it is presented as one continuous track on the disc, and not broken up into index points for the individual tracks. The second is that it's the only truly compelling content for the set. It could easily have been enhanced and released as its own Sasha release and most everyone would have been very happy. Instead, it becomes a cumbersome tack-on to a much less interesting (in actuality more than in theory) set.

The remix portion of the set is filler at best, and boring at worst. The edits of the tracks are quite good, but may seem superfluous to those who already have the originals. This leaves us with a movie score, that while very good, seems neutered in this presentation.

Overall, The emFire Collection: Mixed, Unmixed & Remixed feels like a disappointing mix of the old and the not very good. For those who already have the singles, the movie score might be enough to entice you here. Although it seems unlikely that we will now see a separate and enhanced soundtrack release, one can always hope.

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About David R Perry