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Masterworks Reworked

Various Artists
Masterworks Reworked
(Groove Gravy Records)

I'm a fan of classical music and I'm also a fan of DJs, remixers, and mashup. I think that in an ideal world, there may be some place that they can coexist in a place that is mutually respective of one another, but it's unfortunately not on the majority of Masterworks Reworked. The concept of using classical music in electronic music, and even reworking classical music has been around basically since the beginning of electronic music itself, but rarely is it actually done right. Instead, we get the most obvious combinations of sounds possible, and as a fan of both it makes me a bit sad.

Really, that's the biggest problem with Masterworks Reworked. So many people have already taken loops of classical music and then tossed a mid or downtempo beat and overall groove over them and 'bingo' - a new song! Sure, it makes for some decent sounds and something that I might not even object to if it were playing in my dentists office (anything but that horrible talk-radio and moldy oldies please!), but if you've done any listening to electronic music at all, you've most likely heard something like this before. Zigo wastes no time in doing exactly that to Bach's Overture Number 3, and it's basically note for note as I described above. There's the classical loop, some other synth strings, another bubble of synths, and a chunky beat. Viola!

We've also got Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata playing behind some mid-tempo beats with skitters and horns (courtesy of Dakesh York), the cheeseball dancefloor treatment of Rodrigo's Concerto De Aranjulez by Tangarine D'Or, and the unfortunate twisting of Schubert's Piano Mass No. 6 into a hopped-up electro funk track by Le D. One of the only tracks that shows a little restraint (and works well because of it) is the light touch of Jazzelicious on Ravel's Bolero, making it come off like a nicely-building Kruder And Dorfmeister gem.

Maybe my problem is that I simply take my classical music a little too seriously, but my main problem is that there's just not enough imagination going on with the reworkings on this release. Sure, it's fine to chill out to, but taking a loop and tossing a beat and some other sounds over it doesn't take a whole lot of work (I've busted out songs like this in one night while teaching myself music software). Electronic musicians like Fennesz and Biosphere have done amazing things with sampling classical music, and while they're not working in the dance realm, they at least show a little more reverence for the source material by staying a little closer to the emotional intent and putting a little more time into reworking and finessing things.

Well, there I go overanalyzing again when this is probably just supposed to be a lighthearted dance record. On second thought, though, screw that. Beethoven and Bach and everyone that did the original work on this release might be dead, but I've still got their back.

Rating: 3