The Hand That Feeds: The Remixes
Founded in the early 1980s by electronic innovator Martin Bowes, Attrition has always stood apart from its gloom-and-doom contemporaries. While dark, Attrition's music has always been geared for dance. Back in the day, dour goths had yet to realize that bands don't need guitars to be goth. Now heralded as one of the UK's original "darkwave" or "dark electronic" bands, Attrition recently jumped labels and released The Hand That Feeds, a remix album primed to slide into the dance and technorave scenes.
Darkwave was first dubbed in Germany, where goth and rivethead culture vultures maintained their distance. Darkwave was used to define those bands that seemed to borrow elements from both scenes. Even so, Attrition, often associated with UK contemporaries In the Nursery and the Legendary Pink Dots, never had the harshness of today's industrial bands. With a revolving set of collaborators, Attrition is probably the only electronic group to use a violist.
Attrition's work at times sounds like something a classical composer might have written had she the necessary tools. "Cold Genius," in fact, is a reworking of Henry Purcell's "What Power Art Thou," a famous baroque melody. The lyrics by poet John Dryden refer to the "cold genius" that rises from the dead. While the instrumentation is obviously different, with the tinky beats and sampled operatic vocals, the remix retains the majesty of an operetta. Despite its source, "Cold Genius" is an extremely danceable number. The remix by Mick Dabrowski emphasizes the organic feel of the song.
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The Attrition remixes are, in part, a payback for Bowes, who has remixed songs for others. Over the years, he's just been collecting remixes. The Hand That Feeds features exclusive remixes from such noted electronic artists as Chris and Cosey, In the Nursery, New Mind, Dance or Die, Regenerator, Stromkern and Morbus Kitahara. Various techno and drum 'n' bass DJs also contribute.
Most of the remixers add beats and sampling, and extend the dance vibe. "I Am (Eternity)," last seen on the Etude album, in which Attrition transformed its e-songs into classical pieces, goes through a radical transfiguration. Here, after a classical-sounding intro, ex-Throbbing Gristle members Chris and Cosey rev it up, mixing the ethereal vocals with a techno beat. The string instrumentation is shortened and distorted into repeated beats.
Drum 'n' bass, another techno variation, takes center stage in Mark Crumby's remix of "The Second Hand." While the vocals and melodies are reduced to little snippets that appear every once in a while, this remix is easily the most addictive of the entire album.
That's just one of the reasons The Hand That Feeds could be the crossover album that Attrition craves. Not only do the remixes serve as an introduction to Attrition's most-loved singles, but they also satisfy Attrition fans eager for the next innovation.