Having previously worked their magic on records by Fatboy Slim, Calvin Harris. and Hurts, the elder statesmen of electro, Groove Armada, switch their attention to their own output with White Light, the alternative version of their critically acclaimed seventh studio album, Black Light. Ignoring the temptation to hire a stream of hotshot producers, Andy Cato and Tom Findlay have taken it upon themselves to do the cutting and pasting on reworkings of seven of the disc's 11 original tracks ("Cards to Your Heart," "Fall Silent," "Just for Tonight," and the Bryan Ferry-featuring "Shameless" have been left as they were). It's a move which ensures that the source material is treated with affection. Rather than just haphazardly layering the existing tracks with tacky floor-filling beats and generic electro riffs, the Brighton pair have opted for a more understated approach, such as adding just a touch of New Order-influenced Balearics to the Will Young-starring "History" (also featured here in a downtempo chill-out remix) whilst retaining its infectious Bronski Beat vibes, and slightly toning down the industrial Leftfield-ish nature of their collaboration with Empire of the Sun's Nick Littlemore, "Not Forgotten." Indeed, apart from their retooling of "Warsaw," which turns the shouty indie rock anthem into a pulsating slice of squelchy Josh Wink-esque techno, the alternate versions don't veer too far from the originals, making White Light more of an accompaniment than a full-fledged remix album. The fuzzed-up garage rock that surrounds the second half "Look Me in the Eye Sister" is made more prominent, the slinky Eurythmics-inspired synth pop of "I Won't Kneel" is given a slight '80s new wave treatment, while the Fleetwood Mac leanings of "Time and Space" are fully realized with its "Big Love"-inspired menacing guitars, but they're all subtle transitions rather than ham-fisted makeovers. As its title suggests, the sole new composition, "1980," also fits the retro synth pop mold, and is worthy of occupying a place on Black Light, but it's the new interpretations that make this collection stand out from the plethora of haphazardly assembled remix albums. Anyone expecting any radical overhauls might be disappointed, but White Light is a lovingly crafted effort which only enhances Groove Armada's reputation as one of the U.K.'s most gifted dance artists.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien