Archive for the ‘Music’ Category


Alive 1991 vs. Alive 2009

April 14, 2009

When you tamper with an album as awesome as Ten, it begs the question: legitimate remix or self-serving desecration?

Upon first listen of my favorite Pearl Jam track, Alive, I noticed how much louder it seemed. I immediately put on the original. Definitely subdued by comparison. But, also recognizable, correct. I couldn’t tell.

A few sleepless nights later, I decided to look at the waveform.


Original 1991 Tim Palmer Mix - looks good to me

2009 Brendan O'Brien Remix

2009 Brendan O'Brien Remix - Um...that can't be good, can it?

I listened again, unsure of whether these images were influencing me the wrong way. The new mix now seemed too loud, while the original mix, which the band themselves seem to regard as amateur, nonetheless used its effects to enhance Vedder’s secrets and snarls, and it sounded more evenly distributed. I listened back and forth a few more times, my frustration growing…

There’s only one way to get to the bottom of this and know once and for all whether this re-release is the real deal. A side-by-side listen to both tracks.

I rigged this up in Final Cut Pro. The top tracks represent the original 1991 version from Ten while the lower tracks are from the 2009 remix.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Personally, while I may feel guilty losing some of the bassline and all of the vocal effects, (mainly out of nostalgic loyalty for every last nuance of the original), there’s no denying that the new cut delivers more of what made the track a classic in the first place: Vedder’s powerful command of the vocals which (unfairly) draw comparisons to Robert Plant and the dynamic interplay between guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready. These elements are stripped of any “produced” sound,  brought front and center and made loud. As you listen to the side-by-side you can literally hear the band’s balls disappearing every time it switches back to the original mix. When Gossard’s epic solo kicked off, it laid whatever was left of my skepticism to rest.

It almost seems unfair that this new offering could become the definitive version. I’ve since heard the rest of the album and can say it’s a pretty sweet improvement that seemed totally unwarranted. Double surprise!

Winner: Alive (2009)

I know there are bound to be purists who’d have me burned for saying so…

What do you think of the new remix?


Profile – Gotye

November 28, 2008

The Artist: Wally de Backer aka Gotye

The Art: lush sonic landscapes/pop music/fringe festivals

The Medium: 60s samples, Apple laptops, and a treasure trove of instruments

Though you may not know his name (or how to pronounce it), Gotye (Gore-Tea-Ay) has been amassing a small army of followers in Australia since 2006 where his second independent release Like Drawing Blood was a left-field hit. Recorded on home computers in bedrooms around Melbourne, the tracks were built using over 700 samples gathered from old 80s vinyls and instructional videos. Dark, complex electronic beats are offset by Gotye’s emotive voice, especially on the agonizing breakout track “Hearts A Mess”. The result is a challenging, playful blend of familiar sounds arranged and sampled in a way that squeezes every bit of life out them. If the album veers towards overindulgence occasionally, it makes up for it by setting a new standard for sampled creations and a handful of songs such as “Thanks for Your Time” which can take a stock emotion like indignation and twist it into something else all together – a smile.

Like Drawing Blood received much support in Australia, garnering the then 26-year-old former librarian several accolades including an ARIA for Best Male Performer. The doo-wop inspired track “Learnalilgivinandlovin” even managed to snag a spot on Rolling Stone’s Best Songs of 2006 year-end list.

We haven’t heard much from Gotye since. There was Back to Basics – an album of remixes in 2007; a cabaret show as part of Australia’s Feasting on Flesh fringe festival, several awesome music videos and lots of touring. No sign of any new material yet. The irony in producing independent works is that it barely leaves time for the artist to create art. There’s a wonderful, if old interview, with Gotye to this effect at

One can only hope that Gotye finds himself a cozy bedroom and another milk crate full of LPs soon.

Video for Gotye’s track Hearts A Mess. Directed and animated by Brendan Cook at PictureDRIFT.

Vodpod videos no longer available.