Somnambule - Writing About Music

Sutekh ~ Collected Remixes 1999-2005

Listening to Sutekh’s Collected Remixes prompts a number of questions such as ‘Does the world need another remix album? And ‘How many remixes are in anyone’s top 20 desert island discs?’. The first disc of this double CD release collects Sutekh’s more recent work for the likes of Ben Neville, Hanne Hukkelberg, Murcof and Ammoncontact. Having heard only one of the original tracks it’s difficult to comment upon the extent of the reconstruction, although notes on the cover such as “composed of various sounds from the album ...” suggests that this is at least at times extensive.

Hanne Hukkelberg’s Ease opens proceedings. The singer delivers a nonchalant narrative seemingly straight to camera/microphone. Its backing sounds like a club take on Steve Reich, nothing particularly unusual in that, but the execution is deft and the overall experience a pleasure, the open secret being the singer’s character. From there, however, it’s a downward slope. Absencen by Kammerflimmer is a slice of contemporary breakbeat electronics lacking a raison d’etre. The same may be observed of most of the rest of the disc. I disliked it on first listen, finding it clever, but oddly perfunctory. A lot of care has evidently been put into each track, but the result seems drained of life, a bloodless exercise in form and possibility that lacks even the ghost of a beating heart at its centre. Further listens have added little to improve upon these first impressions.

I therefore approached the second disc of older material with some trepidation. Artists put under the knife include Swayzak, Alva Noto, Twerk and Safety Scissors. Billed as more club-focused, I was really surprised by the quality of the 11 tracks on offer. Disk one’s unwelcome sense of mechanical tokenism is replaced by a gorgeous minimalism paired to an unstoppable propulsiveness and a brilliant deployment of texture that’s so tactile it prompts feelings of synaesthesia. Sutekh’s Collected Remixes is a game of two halves if ever there was one. To return to the question of whether the world needs another remix album: not really, but in these times of surfeit (in the richer countries) Sutekh’s earlier, leaner releases are an impressive pleasure.
Colin Buttimer
October 2005
Published by the BBC