Nav Katze

Never Mind the Distortion, Vol. 1

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The Japanese pop-tronica duo of Miwako Yamaguchi and Naoko Iimura walk into the British club scene, with the door being held open by remix contributors like Black Dog, Global Communication, Aphex Twin, and others. Not surprisingly, however, the original compositions take a back seat to what these DJs have to say, but would Nav Katze have gotten this audience without their help? It's debatable. As for this East-meets-West project, Ultramarine opens the disc with a mostly respectful reinterpretation of "Nobody Home," preserving vocals and tone with a little gloomy funk. Richard James takes things into his own hands (as usual) for a slightly more radical and very beautiful Aphex Twin mix of "Ziggy," one that sounds like rusted cherry blossoms, digital ghosts, and paper snow. The mood shifts at the break of "Black Dog"'s dreamy sequenced groove, which does little more than accompany the tracks' original vocal lines. Reload's mix of "Crazy Dream" has some merit, but mostly it's a technical exercise in Detroit house that could be Ken Ishii if it had more interesting twists and turns. Another mix from Aphex Twin (less interesting than his first), then Black Dog again (more interesting than their first), and listeners come at last to Global Communication's gratuitously long mood piece that washes forward gently over 15 minutes to include new age chord shimmers, a breakbeat drum loop, rhythm guitar, ambient textures, and what some might consider a mild test of listeners' patience. Regardless, the variety plugged into these mere seven tracks is worth noting, as there is certainly something engaging here for most electronica fans.

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