Fans have been waiting years for Pendulum to finally release something new; and while The Reworks isn’t any new original Pendulum material, it’s still somewhat successful in whetting our appetite. It’s also the first and only Pendulum remix album ever released, so in that sense, it has a special significance. And yet, a lot of people still aren’t happy with the release as a whole.
Every remix that was released in the lead up to the album, Noisia’s “Hold Your Colour,” Icarus’s “Tarantula,” even Skrillex’s “The Island Pt 1” and especially Knife Party’s “Blood Sugar,” received their fair share of criticism. And speaking as a lover of all genres that those remixes were released as, I can say without bias that every criticism had a bit of truth to it… despite Rob Swire’s derision.
Ahh, the mysteries of life. Kinda like – why do dubstep bros think wavetables are a substitute for any musical ability? No one knows.
— Knife Party (@knifepartyinc) April 20, 2018
But now that the full remix album is officially out, we can really get a sense for how artists approached these tracks, or perhaps how Swire directed them. And that is: “Do whatever the fuck you want.”
We’ve already covered all the aforementioned remixes, so we’ll focus on the new ones, but each has a story to tell.
To start with, the Grabbitz remix is easily my favorite of the bunch. I heard an early version of this remix last year, but had to keep mum about it until now. As soon as I heard that Grabbitz was lending his own vocals to it, I hardly had to hear the rest. But that being said, the entire reimagination is a brilliant example of how to re-engineer a track to not only fit your own aesthetic, but pay tribute to the original.
Next up we’ve got the Pegboard Nerds remix of the Pendulum hit “Witchcraft.” With a Knife Party & Pegboard Nerds collaboration already confirmed, it’s no surprise that PBN were also tapped for The Reworks. Their remix has all the trappings of the original, including Swire’s inimitable vocals, with a new flair for the modern day. If anything, it more closely resembles Rob Swire’s own drumstep remix of the track from 2010.
That first, false drop also does a phenomenal job of building up anticipation even more than should be legally allowed.
The next remix I want to bring attention to is the Devin Townsend remix of “Crush” … noticing a pattern yet? Townsend actually does very little to the remix overall, except for some subtle recreation of the focal guitar riff in the verses. The drums are also new, though less obvious, with smaller embellishments. Townsend’s contribution is most obviously noticeable in the final chorus when he at last lends his own vocals to the mix, which will surely satisfy fans of his. But is it too little, too late? It’s debatable.
Only one song on the entire album was remixed twice: “The Island, Pt. 1 (Dawn).” Possibly Pendulum’s biggest song of all time (just by streaming numbers, at least, certainly not significance in their discography), it’s only fitting that this one received two attempts.
While Skrillex’s remix was met with hesitant appreciation, we’re acutely surprised and intensely enjoying AN21’s remix. The producer, who used to pair up nicely with Max Vangeli on a number of classic house tunes, has actually remixed a Pendulum song before. Ironically (or perhaps not), Max Vangeli & AN21 and Steve Angello teamed up to remix “The Island” first all the way back in 2010. The remix back then was, not surprising, very house focused.
In contrast, the 2018 remix is a heavier, G-House sort of banger that hits with ferocity. It’s easily one of the most unexpected remixes on the whole album.
Of course, as soon as we bring up “unexpected,” we have no choice but to mention Moby’s remix of “Vault.” Having never actually been released on any album, the song choice itself is already unexpected enough. But dropping a vast, atmospheric drum & bass remix is on another level. The original is super fast-paced and relentless enough as it is; Moby adds brilliant, sweeping synths to the mix to place us in space and it sounds absolutely wonderful.
The rest of the remix album, including cuts from Eelke Kleijn, Matrix & Futurebound, ATTLAS, and DJ Seinfeld, is available to stream now.
Photo via Rukes.com