Just what is the dividing line between a remix and an original production? Over the past several months, British house producer Trus'me (a.k.a. David James Wolstencroft) has been exploring this question via a trilogy of singles that find his songs being heavily remixed by some of the most respected names in underground dance music. Along the way, his original material, much of which is now between four and five years old, has been taken pretty far from its Moodymann-esque starting point. PN16 is the final entry in this series, and, like the rest, it's an exercise in extreme reworkings that manage to remain familiar in spite of their far-out contortions.
The previous Trus'me remix EPs carried with them some rather prestigious names, and the latest doesn't disappoint on that front either. The showcase single is Ben Klock's remix of "W.A.R. Dub," arguably Trus'me's most recognizable club anthem. For his rework, the Berghain resident bleeds out a lot of the deep-house feeling and replaces it with a driving, dub-techno hypnotism. In practice, this means the bulk of the original's sampledelia is absent; this includes the Marvin Gaye "war is hell" vocal hook, the tinkling pianos, and the reverbed slivers of bongo. So, what's left? Not much. Only the dubby central riff remains, and even then, it's a subdued echo of its former self. In truth, the remix is pretty much an entirely new song; the only thing that points back to its referent is a shared expression of moody emotions. Judged on its own merits, it's a good track, but it never reaches the creative heights of its source material.
The most striking remix on the EP comes from Ukrainian producer Vakula, who saturates the dusty jazz-funk of "Need a Job" with paranoid TB-303 acid. Gone are the loose trumpets, and only the vocal refrain of "got to move" remains. Even more so than Klock's contribution, it's really not a remix in a conventional sense of the word. Instead, it's a new track, one that aims for a very different, and much darker headspace—and succeeds because of it.
By contrast, Ryan Elliott's remix of "Nards" takes things in a more straightforward direction. It's more recognizable, even though the song's down-and-out disco vibe is mostly absent. He slices up tiny loops from the original and lets them run wild over a four-to-the-floor kick drum accompanied only by chugging hi-hats. It's effectively a muted dub, with a focus on reducing things down to bare essentials.
Like the rest of the series, PN16 is a solid EP. However, listening to the three remixes, it's hard not to think that Wolstencroft has squeezed as much as he can out of his back catalog. For that reason, we're more excited for his long-awaited new album, Treat Me Right, which will be his first original Trus'me release in more than three years.