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Indie Instrumentals Remixed

Yo La Tengo
Danelectro EP

What's an already nearly classic indie rock group to do after releasing one of the most critically acclaimed albums of their career (And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out)? If you're Yo La Tengo, you release an EP of 3 new instrumental tracks and then let 3 different people take their turn at turning those tracks inside out (sorry, but I just had to say it). It's actually a very interesting combination, and one that I wouldn't have expected in a long time. Not only do then enlist a couple electronic artists (Kit Clayton and Nobukazu Takemura, both of which I've never heard of), but MC and DJ Q-Unique of the Arsonists (labelmates through Matador).

Fortunately, it's something that works most of the time, and the group now has another almost 30 minutes of music to add to their catalogue, including some amazing instrumentals that wouldn't have even sounded tossed-off if they had arrived by themselves (although they would have seemed a little more insignificant given there combined running time of less than 10 minutes). The group has lent their music to the remix treatment before (like on the "Autumn Sweater" remixes EP), so it's not really anything too new.

The originals of the "Danelectro" series are fairly mild, pretty instrumentals. They're ordered strangely on the CD (#2 is first, then #3, then #1 after the remix of #1 and #2), but it's the opening track of "Danelectro 3" that probably makes the biggest mark. With a repetitive and pretty guitar melody that plays off some fairly simple bass, it twinkles and shines and has a slight melancholy feel as subtle drums feel like the rumbling of distant thunder. "Danelectro 2" is a little more upbeat and jaunty, but still has sort of the same stripped-down feel, while "Danelectro 1" is the most repetitive and least followed-through with even though it only clocks in at just over a minute.

The remixes of the tracks are all pretty good, although none of them particularly jump out as groundbreaking (except for moments of the Nobukazu Takemura mix). The Q-Unique mix takes the original bass and guitar parts (of #1) and weaves them in behind a thick hip-hop beat and some ticky ticky sounds and scratching while the Kit Clayton mix (of #3) chops it up and takes away the beautiful, almost haunting grandeur of the original. The epic mix (clocking in at almost 3 times the original) by Takemura of "Danelectro 2" manages to move between all kinds of genres, starting out in glitch before moving onto a layered, almost electro-orchestral feel before cutting up everything and reconstructing it again as droning, twinkling ambient. Overall, there isn't anything that's probably going to win over any new fans, but there is some interesting new music and the simple beauty of "Danelectro 3" is almost worth the cheap price of admission alone.

Rating: 7.25