The Dynamic Duo join forces, and create an audio smash that lives up to its title.
Availability: Track will be available from 1st April.
It's the combination of wolf and masculinity that defines this remix...
because a lot of remixes add nothing to the original. There are a whole host of DJs and producers that will take an existing song- some good, some dreadful; and really not improve upon it. It is a waste of time and effort and rather than emit seminal flow of awfulness, you need to make it better; add something new. There are some worthy trysts of artist and collaborator. Whilst searching Google, I hit upon a remix of 'Paradise', reconfigured as a dub-step monster. What was once a listless wandering tramp of a song, with no real USP or destination, was at once put in a suit, shaven and is a borderline-paragon of innovation. It takes a bold astuteness to tackle a song and make it sound new and engaging.
Katsuo and Night Wolf are fairly disparate in context; the former is a rock step maverick, fronted by Alex Larkman. The latter is multi-faceted artist, displaying feathers of dub-step, classic and political spoken word to his plumage. It's chairman, Ryan Wilcox has shown a great diversity in his music and producing, and have been impressed by his alma mater's output as of late. Together, they appeal to a wide array of music lovers. I am usually entrenched in indie, rock and stoner rock and as of recently, hadn't broadened my pallet to include the pairs respective genres. It is at the intersection of their audio venn diagram where the remix flourishes. It is guaranteed to thrill the old faithful, as well as pull in the po-faced, and undecided voters, alike. I was wondering whether this wonderful one-night stand would birth an apoplectic progeny; a guaranteed long-term romance, or a metaphysical testosterone brew of sweat, blood, tears; or simply a bloody good track.
There is immediate validation from the remix. Before you can compose your thoughts and get comfortably seated there is a sledgehammer execration. The electric guitar sound shreds and kicks, and is a bucket of acid to the face. The vocal is quite high up in the mix, which is prudent, as it gives a chance for the lyrics to profiteer. Katsuo is up at the mic., fully intent on telling you what's what: "I could be a rock star/Or just your mate/Take away the mic./And I'm not so great", is the intriguing lead-off. I have heard the lyrics before, but notice, that given comparative isolation, the lines have an added piquancy to them. There is much more of a sting in the tale; somewhat of a rap/hip hop spit to it. That instant combination of guitar catapult and vocal sucks you straight in. That guitar is played to great effect; punctuating and teeing-up the vocal, and creating its own cacophonous brew in the background. straddling the first two vocal segments is a cocksure, almost rebellious laugh. As the chorus comes in, the mood is slightly lighter; not timid or overly-'radio friendly', but calmer and studied. There is an effective and stern drumbeat that italisises the mood. The chorus is given considerate tenderness. In the original it was catchy and had a euphoric spirit to it, and lynch-pined the song. It was a strong track from start to finish but it is the chorus that sticks in your head. Now there is a competing meritocracy within the space of 30 seconds or so. Sounds, ideas and moods campaign for your approval. There is a guitar hold and the drums come to play; then the vocal comes to the forefront and when the lyrics "And when the music gets loud/And you're out of your mind/You better get down and testify", are sermonised, they are given additional fervor and pertinence; I gave a sly grin during the word 'testify'- the 3rd syllable is elongated. I could imagine Alex given a similar reaction in the studio! There are great moments of varied interjection; some of the syntehsiser/electronic sounds lower in the mix reassemble the New Romantic pioneers of the '80s; it has a romanticism to it. The drums that accompany it are pulsating but have a hollow sound to them; this way it gives the mood a tribal air and the vocal becomes less a mission statement, and more of an election promise, that they will definitely keep. The lines: "Would you put me on a pedestal/like a diety" are given particular reverence. The song retains a lot of its original influence: Skrillex, Example, Chase and Status, but new sonic influences come to the fore. There is a harder rock sound, maybe reminiscent of early-Muse. When the lines: "And when the music is loud/And you're out of your mind/you better get down and testify" are delivered and we float down to land, the experience ends.
Overall it is a triumphant result. The two display an entrepreneurial spirit and dispel any antiquated notions or cliches, of what a remix should sound like. Katsuo has recently completed a remix for Chess, and tackled one of the songs from her debut E.P. It will be fascinating to see what comes from that. In the same way that acts such as The Avalanches can take sounds and songs and create a light and fascinating mood, Night Wolf's Ryan Wilcox has achieved this. Similarly, artists like Moby who can weld older sounds and voices and make it sound retro and alive is another influence I would point to. The mood shifts effortlessly between dream-like trance, dark streetlights and danger, through to hardcore rock step. The key components of the original are kept in place. The lyrics are sharp throughout. In the chorus there is a simplicity to them, to make sure they lodge in your head. In the choruses there are messianic declarations, self-doubt, confidence and the result is a mixed causality. The vocal is confident and strong throughout. Katsuo has a more lyrical voice than a lot of his contemporaries. The music is fascinating and ever-changing. Night Wolf have come into the fray and shown respect for the author. Soundscapes and ingenious touches are added; vocals are emphasied where appropriate and far from suffering from questionable cause; the song is intensified and made that much more daring due to his input.
Katsuo is touring London over the next month, and has new music and intrigue afoot. Night Wolf have released E.P. 'Watts the Time Mr. Wolf'. The two are good friends and have a mutual respect for each other's music. This shows through on this remix. It will be interesting to see if they work together more extensively or not. I would certainly like to hear more of their collaborative innovation. It is post hoc ergo propter hoc to assimilate that this close kinship is the reason for the resultant smash. It is in part true, but is mainly due to the strength of the original. All the foundations were in place. It is Katsuo's comrade who weaves his magic and adds shades of light and dark where needed; tampering with the mood and making it more electric and interesting, thus creating a song that sounds new in its immediacy but familiar and safe too. 2013 will be a busy and successful year for both artists, and, truly...
... it will be fascinating to see what moves they make next.
Dear or Alive @ The Buffalo Bar, London
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Check out Night Wolf's E.P. via: