Neutral

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Nicole Elmer (aka Neutral) has been making barely categorizable electronic music for several years now, both as a solo artist and in collaboration with others of a similarly iconoclastic bent. It should probably come as no surprise that a remix album based on tracks from her first three albums should be a sprawling mess of an affair, in which underground artists of various persuasions recast and disassemble her songs and turn them into new compositions of varying levels of coherence and attractiveness. For example, Xingu Hill's remix of "Bird in the Air" leaves little of the original's melody and not much more of its beat or general ambience, which is fine -- that's what remixes are for. But Xingu Hill doesn't do very much with the remaining elements, and this mix basically ends up being a three-and-a-half minute disquisition on a single musical idea. The new composition "Silent" doesn't offer much substance, either. But Solenoid's remix of "Hey Ash" is a brilliant balancing act between abstraction and funkiness, and Gridlock's mix of "J. Doesn't Do Acid Anymore" is a slightly creepy sonic crazyquilt that manages to be simultaneously restful and disturbing. The answering machine tapes are maybe a bit more intimate than most listeners will be comfortable with, but that's probably intentional, too. Recommended.