We’ve occasionally repped for Resident Advisor’s RA Podcast on Idolator, for good reason: it’s the best thing of its kind anywhere. Subscribe via iTunes and every week a brand-new DJ mix is deposited into your podcast folder; pay nothing. It isn’t always inspired (not terribly into this week’s, RA.113, by Pigon), and sometimes it’s bonkers in a bad way (say hello to RA.106, by the excellent French duo Nôze, who submitted a shoddily recorded live set; it’s no longer available), but this is the best bargain I know for anyone who likes or is at least curious about dance music’s artier end.
There are disadvantages to proclaiming that some of your favorite “albums” come from a podcast. You can look like an elitist jerk, for one thing, when those podcasts are only up on their parent site for four weeks, and back catalogue requires Google. That’s why I want to mention that RA.112, by Mark E, is still around for another two and a half weeks. It’s longer than the RA norm, which is usually comfortably in audio-CD range, at 81 and a half minutes, and it’s almost entirely re-edits: slow, dreamlike, deliberate remodelings of largely ’70s and ’80s R&B (or close enough), pulsating and liquid. It might be my favorite RA podcast of the year so far, and it also allowed me to hear some of what I’d been reading about re-edits, the year’s big clubland vogue.
Re-edits fascinate me in theory, partly because nothing says “cultural lull” like a flurry of nostalgia in the charts, and that’s seemed to be particularly the case with dance music. Another reason is that I’ve always found re-edits interesting as a subspecies of their class. Disco re-edits in particular occupy a very particular niche: they’re almost exclusively DJ tools, records no normal person would think to sit home and listen to. But they’re purposeful and powerful and when someone knows what they’re doing behind the decks they can absolutely make a set thrum. A cappella vocal tracks, often thrown over beefy, peaky instrumentals, work in a similar way: an excitant based on stripping something everyone knows to its essence, to celebrate the community that has musically devoted itself to any number of old-school classics. You could say apply the “cultural lull” aspect to this as well: the far sidestreams suddenly occupying the middle.
Nevertheless, the Mark E mix argues for it pretty well. It’s tedious in spots, beginning and peaking with the couple minutes’ worth of naked looped beat that begins the thing, but the best of it bounces incandescently. The repetition might bug you, but if that were the case you’d have stopped reading by now.
The second thing is the moment that floored me, about 13 minutes in: the appearance of the voice of Barry Gibb. It’s “Love You Inside Out” as re-edited by Cole Medina, and hearing the lines, “Baby I can’t figure it out/Your kisses taste like honey/Sweet lies don’t give me no rise/Oh, oh what you trying to do?” repeated on end gives them a weird sense of urgency you wouldn’t expect knowing the original. The space effects and voice-synthesizer effects pervade everything: hi-hats evoke the rings of Saturn, choked guitar licks echo off the stars. You know, all that cosmic shit they’re supposed to have in abundance nearer the Arctic Circle. I kept going back to it. And finally I did a little digging and found the entire track downloadable on its own, on Cole Medina’s MySpace page. The producer is from L.A. and has been making re-edits for a few years; this is the first I’ve heard. (The track is easy enough to find through the usual channels.) Does calling this one of my favorite tracks of the year mean “cultural lull” too? Maybe, but right now I like this too much to care.
RA.112, by Mark E [Resident Advisor]