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  • Filed under: Review
  • 02/08/2013

Matthew Dear Fighting is Futile Remixes

It's a shame that Matthew Dear's career has continued to stray further and further away from the dancefloor—while his latter-day role as a post punk-informed, ostensibly pop bandleader has yielded some intermittently fantastic results, Dear was arguably at his best when marrying the accessibility of funk and pop to the rhythmic creativity of Detroit techno. As such, the concept of a Matthew Dear remix package, dragging things back in a more club-orientated direction, is always appealing. In all honesty, the original "Fighting Is Futile" was one of the weaker moments on Dear's recent Beams LP—what potential the song had was lost amidst a cluttered arrangement and some unnecessarily jarring instrumentation—so it's pleasing to repeatedly find the track's building blocks reconstructed into something altogether more refined across the course of this four-track release.

In truth, the four reworkings on offer here are a mixed bag, ranging from inspired moments of dancefloor pop to clumsy reimaginings that seem short on inspiration. Bulgarian experimentalist KiNK's take on the track has a lot of positives going for it, but still ends up feeling like something of a missed opportunity. The remix starts well, stripping the track down to a Krautrock-like bass loop and kick drum, supplemented by a hanging synth chord that slowly builds in tension, but KiNK seems to lose control of the composition halfway through, bailing out on the driving rhythm and letting the whole thing get lost in a mess of glitchy synth noises. Meanwhile, the offering from Danish duo Laid Back, which closes the set, is downright awkward; it's a lumbering work of sexless synth funk that drains the energy out the original while amping up its shortcomings.

Fortunately, the remaining two remixes are both on point. Seth Troxler's version effectively does exactly what one wants it to; he strips the clutter from the original song and instead dwells on the pleasantly atmospheric chords of the intro, adding in layers of melodic synth lines and fixing the whole thing around a reassuringly straightforward house beat. It's not exactly groundbreaking, but it's both rhythmically and melodically infectious enough to live up to Troxler's dancefloor pedigree. It's DC/Berlin duo Benoit & Sergio that offers up the best take on the track, however. The pair's "Fighting Is Futile" replaces the churning funk of the original with something far more melodic and subtle. It's eight minutes of wonderfully retro-tinged piano house, layered out with atmospheric filtered vocals and powered along by a captivating bass riff. Thankfully, these two club-friendly reworkings are more than enough to make the whole package a totally worthwhile endeavor.

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