Monday, October 19, 2009


So, the vinyl pre-order packages of Sole and the Skyrider Band's Plastique album (as mentioned in my recent interview with Sole) are landing today, and with them the limited (to 500 copies) vinyl EP, Battlefields.

Battlefields is a 6-song EP on Fake Four Inc. (not Anticon); the title track of which is taken off the Plastique full-length. It then includes three new, unreleased songs and two exclusive remixes.

Surprisingly, the stand-out cut is the "Battlefields" remix. And I say surprising, because it's by someone named Tobacco of Black Moth Super Rainbow, a name which just screams sloppy, emo, made-on-a-laptop suckage. But damn if he doesn't just kill it. Especially considering "Battlefields" wasn't exactly one of my favorite tracks on the LP in the first place... though with its slow, mellow-ish vibe and sleepy hook sung by Marcus Archer (of 13 & God), it works better here as an alternate mood piece, sort of like a reprise to the Tobacco version. This remix replaces the original industrial collage with a funky guitar loop, a groovy bassline, and soft, thumping drums. An ill keyboard solo kicks in during the breakdown, too. The other version may've come first, but this really feels like the definitive version "Battlefields" was meant to be, and this cut alone not only justifies the EP's existence, but makes it more of a must-have than Plastique.

I prefer the other EP remix here - B.Fleischmann's remix of "Black" - to the album version, too; but it's not the stand-out highlight that Tobacco's "Battlefields" is. I think mainly I was just glad to have the cymbal-smashing, garage-band-jamming feel of the album version (enhanced by the fact that Sole is using that distorted, low quality microphone sound on this song, a la The Beastie Boys' "So Watch' Cha Want") replaced by... anything. And so this mix has more of a relaxed feel, with a more traditional drum pattern and lots of slow organ-like keyboards. It's also easier to hear Sole on this mix, where before you had to really concentrate to make out his words through all of the noise. Fleischmann's made Plastique's skip-over track into a very listenable experience.

Of the original songs, "Cut Off Moon" is both my favorite and, again, the least grunge band-y. The cover says this song features Telephone Jim Jesus (of The Restiform Bodies), but there's nobody on this track vocally besides Sole, so I guess it's him providing a lot of the instrumentation, accounting for the difference in sound. Again, it's got a more organized, polished feel to it, with a deep but slow and simple drumline and a lot of science fiction-like, warbling synths, which are appropriate given Sole's lyrics. It's superficially a first person science fiction narrative from a guy sitting on the moon lamenting humanity's future condition; but of course it's essentially a commentary on our own current one:

"Millions fought over the Great Lakes,
And poisoned its water with shrapnel waste
And cooked limbs.
Needless to say,
That was a real tough summer for some.
But few care about those forgotten nations.
History began
When we left and filled the stars like ants. In space,
The only enemies we found were each other."

The other two songs, "This Bad Reputation" and "Good Bacteria" kinda go together... they use the same basic sample for their instrumentation, which again is along the lines of melodic, science fiction soundtrack keyboards. Lyrically, well... Sole told me in our interview that he never was abstract like some of the other Anticon members, but maybe he'd like to take a crack at explaining the lyrics to "Good Bacteria" for us? "This Bad Reputation," a more straight forward song about Sole's struggles with artistic identity, takes the same basic music several steps further, by having the band increasingly rock out over the track as the song progresses. But it's still grounded by the underlying melody, which again seperates the feel of EP from the LP.

Plastique is more about discordant guitars, rock & roll and bashing cymbals - seriously, did I mention all the cymbals? - whereas Battlefields is smoother and more focused, with a consistent sonic theme. So, yeah, the LP's cool - it feels more like a natural follow-up to the original Sole & The Skyrider Band album - but the EP is the real gem that I'll still be spinning six months or six years from now. It's definitely worth going out of your way to find someplace still selling the Battlefields bundle as opposed to just quickly picking up Plastique on its own.

Now, remember my post in July about the free mp3 ticket that came with BusDriver's latest album? Well, I'm happy to report that Sole's album(s) came with one, too. It has a link to the Battlefields EP download (which also includes a handy .pdf file with all the lyrics) and a code to download the entire Plastique album. What's more, the card includes another password for a bonus "beats" album, which includes all of the Plastique instrumentals. People who ordered the pre-order package also got a signed poster and a sticker for each album.

Now that's how you handle an album release in 2009.

1 comment:

  1. awesome. you should check out tobacco's collab with aesop rock on the fucked up friends album. sick!