Yo La Tengo are clearly not adverse to the concept of the remix, having allowed outside figures to rework some of their tracks in the past, most notably on the Autumn Sweater and Danelectro EPs. But the folks who previously played with their master tapes were from the worlds of electronic music or indie rock, while the Here to Fall EP features three alternate versions of "Here to Fall" (the opening cut from 2009's Popular Songs) filtered through the minds and mixing consoles of noted hip-hop producers. DJ Maseo from De La Soul strips the tune down to its most basic elements, layering bits of Ira Kaplan's guitar and vocals tracks over a skeletal rhythm pattern and leaving out most of the original bassline and R&B-influenced string section, and the mix ends with a blunt splice that cuts off the vocals mid-verse. RJD2's remix maintains much of the moody, semi-psychedelic feel of the original track while giving the music a loose, languid, and soulful tone; the drum loops favor Georgia Hubley's original percussion while stripping away the splashy cymbals, and the strings face off against spare, stinging guitar samples, giving this the most melodic feel of the three mixes while clearly taking the song in a different place. And Pete Rock doesn't just remix "Here to Fall," he adds some rhymes of his own to the track (this is probably the first and only time Kaplan's vocals will ever follow a quote from Tupac), and Rock has taken Kaplan's vocals and rebuilt the song from the ground up (in fact, the singing sometimes seems to be in a different key than its surroundings), incorporating sleek drum loops, a miles-deep bassline, and washes of keyboards and backing vocals that generate an air of late-night cool filtered through druggy paranoia. This EP clearly represents an experiment on Yo La Tengo's part (not to mention the various producers), but you'd be hard-pressed to name another indie rock band who've been together more than a quarter-of-a-century and would entertain the notion of this sort of a record, let alone one that doesn't embarrass anyone involved. It's not a genre-defying triumph, but it succeeds well enough on its own terms, and fans of the band or the mixmasters will certainly want to check it out.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming