Tommie Sunsine : Relax, This Won’t Hurt

[23 November 2008]

By Evan Sawdey

PopMatters Interviews Editor

As a remixer, Tommie Sunshine is beyond compare. Bringing a gritty rock edge to what normally gets passed off as typical rave fodder, Sunshine’s ear for a solid melody has snagged him some top-choice gigs in a very short amount of time, leading all the way up to remixing the latest Britney Spears single. For Relax, This Won’t Hurt—his second major long-form dance mix album—he decides to ignore his otherwise extraordinary taste-making abilities and treat us to a disc filled with bland four-on-the-floor fodder. 

This set features songs that are too minimal to be called house music, too simplistic to be called rave, and all far too boring to be called entertaining. Boy 8-Bit’s “Fogbank” appears to cop the depressing final-stage music from the NES game Master Blaster and turn it into a painfully unimaginative dancefloor burner. Detboi’s “Jump Up Jump Down” comes off as a tepid rewrite of Basement Jaxx’s “Yo-Yo”, the Faint’s “The Geeks Were Right [Boys Noize vs. D.I.M. Remix]” exhausts its strobe-synth melody line far too early on, and even Sunshine’s own collaboration with the Aston Shuffle underplays its nearly-anthemic hook with a stale drum pattern that, tragically, undercuts its stadium-rocking potential. 

A few songs make it through unscathed (Surkin’s 80s-pop throwback “Chrome Knight”, the Audio Bullys’ “Flickery Vision [Extended Mix]”—here twisting and turning like a lost Mr. Oizo classic), but, by and large, Sunshine’s track record raises expectations for this CD to absurdly high levels, making his underperformance all the more surprising and all the more disappointing.

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