Last year, Mark Lanegan released both the EP 'No Bells On Sunday' and the fantastic full length LP 'Phantom Radio'. 'Phantom Radio' especially garnered Lanegan his highest chart placing yet as well as heaps of critical acclaim - indeed, it featured in this writer's best of 2014 list. It was a fantastic album, full of dirty, bluesy desert lullabies as well as some more electronic, explorative pieces. It was Lanegan at his best.
Now Mark Lanegan is one of my favourite artists and I await anything he releases with baited breath, and, it pains me to say it, but a lot of Lanegan's music doesn't exactly lend itself to being remixed. 'A Thousand Miles of Midnight' is just that though - the dreaded remix album. It compiles tracks from both 'Phantom Radio' and 'No Bells On Sunday' and it is unclear quite who it is for; the Lanegan fans, the electronica fans or the vanity of the musicians involved.
It starts off well enough with Mark Stewart's remix of 'Phantom Radio''s closing salvo 'Death Trip to Tulsa'. It makes perfect sense in terms of sequencing - it's like a dusty reprise to the main album and the remix adds an apocalyptic, sinister and minimalistic tone to the original. This is a good remix: it adds something other than stupid digital bleeps and bloops and squelches that share nothing with the original vision of the original piece of music.
Next up you get Greg Dhulli of The Afghan Whigs offering his take on 'I Am The Wolf', and as you might expect from Dhulli, it's pretty dark. The song builds slowly and features subtle orchestration and is a really interesting new perspective on the source material. There's a few great moments peppered throughout the record: 'Sad Lover' becomes a sinister disco attack, drenched in synths, 'The Wild People' gets stripped back further than the original and takes on a new life of its own, and Alain Johannes' takes 'Judgement Time', strips it bare of all instruments and presents an a cappella rendition with endless layers of Lanegan's vocals sounding like the soundtrack to a diabolical ritual. Good stuff.
These moments are sadly few and far between though and a great EP they would make. For the most part, 'A Thousand Miles of Midnight' is frustrating, directionless and packed to the gills with filler. The problem is that at least six of the tracks on offer here stretch well into the territory of six, seven or eight minutes in length, prime offenders being Moby's 'Torn Red Heart' remix and Pye Corner's take on 'Floor of the Ocean'. The problem is not the length of these remixes per se, it's that they are muddled; they don't build or go anywhere and are infuriatingly repetitive.
The problem with remixing a Mark Lanegan album is that a lot of the stuff is not really suitable for remixing. Some of his best stuff is minimal and brooding already and it doesn't really go well with the digital diversions it has been paired with here. Somewhere buried in this confusion of bland, lengthy jams is a killer EP, but the whole album is just a bit too much.
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