Mastering the Remix
At its best, music inspires and commands our attention. At its worst, it frustrates and infuriates. And the latter happens because of the ferocity of our love for our aural art form. We love music too much to let harm come to it.
Like uncanny valley, anything slightly off can fill our tastes with rage and alienate that deviant sound from the pleasure centers of our brains. We crave specificity, even in the abstraction music hides in sometimes, and we lust after the sounds we’ve grown to love, no matter how unapparent those patterns seem in whatever our current flavor-of-the-week track is.
Our taste in music evolves through subtle, slowly changing shifts, slower than the millimeter-per-year crawl of the Earth’s tectonic plates (but about as personally powerful and cosmic). So remixes walk a really fucking thin tightrope. We need change, but too much change at once can catch us unprepared. Sometimes, remixes drag us through the mud with whatever god-awful-thing DJ_X has done to them, but sometimes, and somewhat amazingly, they allow us to reconsider tracks in ways we normally never would.
Perspective is everything, and one of the best ways to battle useless conviction to solidified ideas, and this is especially true of art, is to prepare yourself for the inevitable — that you will change. And change, like remixes, can be a beautiful thing; sometimes, we desperately need it.
Like Mos Def once said, “Everything’s got space between it, the planets, trees, your eyes. Your eyes get too close together, it’s a whole different world. You can lose perspective.” But at risk of trying to pin some personal explanation to Mos Def’s words, I won’t. I’ll just tell you that he’s got a good idea. When things get too intertwined, it’s hard for us to ever think about unraveling them. We get lost in webs of our own design.
With that in mind, I put together a list of my ten favorite remixes of the year. Subjective and beautiful. Don’t let my words color you. And don’t think of this as a masterpiece; think of this as my perspective. Enjoy. And enjoy wherever your music takes you.