Music

King Midas Sound: Without You

John Bergstrom

Here is a remixed, "revoiced" version of the trio's moody, dubby Waiting For You. With Scritti Politti!


King Midas Sound

Without You

Label: Hyperdub
US Release Date: 2011-11-01
UK Release Date: 2011-10-31
Artist Website
Amazon
iTunes

It seems a little strange on the surface, releasing a remix version of an album that is two years old. King Midas Sound's debut, Waiting for You (2009), was a masterstroke in deep, dark, moody bass music complemented by warm, soulful vocals and smart lyrics. The album was so stark and intimate, it functioned as a single capsule of sound. Why pry that capsule open two years later and have a bunch of outside DJs and artists have at it?

King Midas Sound mastermind Kevin Martin has said he hooked up with so many cool, talented people while on tour for Waiting for You, he wanted to involve them in reinterpreting the album, with one caveat. "It's not just another hire-the-big-names marketing product," Martin has asserted.

Well, some "big names" are here, at least within the milieu of forward-thinking, electronic-leaning indie music. The international cast includes experimentalists Flying Lotus and Gang Gang Dance, underground hip-hop artist Ras G, and Hyperdub label mates Kode9, Cooly G, and Hype Williams (the band, not the hip-hop video director). Even Scritti Politti frontman Green Gartside makes an appearance. Clearly, though, all involved have indeed approached Without You as more than mere product. It is actually more than a remix album, too, as several tracks are "revoiced". That is, guests have recorded new vocals and lyrics over Waiting for You tracks.

Despite the far-reaching group of collaborators, Without You maintains a fairly cohesive, unified atmosphere, one that works the same bass-heavy, dub-influenced back alleys as Waiting for You. More often than not, it is interesting, which is more than a lot of remix albums can claim. At times, it goes a step further and is revelatory. Alas, it is not totally immune to the traps of the remix album, either. Even though few of the 15 tracks are overlong, Without You eventually tries your attention span, and some tracks feel like answers to questions no one save Martin and friends would have asked.

The album starts out with some of its strongest material. Vinyl crackle and buzzing, ominous synth chords introduce Kuedo's reworking of "Goodbye Girl", one of the most lovelorn, affecting songs on Waiting for You. Kuedo maintains a tension and sadness throughout. The mood becomes downright despondent on "Without You", the album's most successful reinvention. D-Bridge takes the original, a brief, untitled instrumental, and turns it into a haunting masterpiece by adding his delicate, soulful croon, a bit of sub-bass, and some murky synth chords. If everything on Without You were as successful as this opening salvo, this would be an album on par with Waiting for You.

But not everything is. The thicker and slower arrangements, the ones that run with the originals' purposeful inertia, generally fare the best. Hype Williams add more atmosphere and depth to "Sumtime", for example, varying the speed of Roger Robinson's spoken-word vocals and adding pitter-pattering syndrums and what sounds like the crackle of weapons fire in the background. Among the more overtly dub and dubstep-influenced remixes, Mala's mean, rolling version of "Earth A Kill Ya" is a standout. It's much more effective than Gang Gang Dance's quirky, glitchy reworking of the same track.

Aside from Ras G & the Afrikan Space Program's manic, noisy, wobbly, and ugly rework of "Cool Out", the remainder of the material on Without You doesn't so much fall flat as fail to stand out or augment the originals. On "Say Something", Joel Ford's more upbeat, charismatic vocals add some almost-pop appeal to "Waiting for You". Gartside, though, can't overcome the drone of "Come and Behold"/"I Man". Tracks like this remind you of just how important Robinson is to King Midas Sound.

The dubby, trippy, illbient stylings of Without You are at least a valiant attempt on Martin's part to move this type of bass music into more collaborative, eclectic territory. Even with its shortcomings the album is superior to, say, the last couple offerings from Massive Attack. Now let us hope Martin and his crew focus their efforts on a new studio album. If nothing else, Without You has given them, and their fans, plenty of food for thought.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

The 60 Best Albums of 2007

From tech house to Radiohead and Americana to indie and everything in between, the 60 best albums of 2007 included many of the 2000s' best albums.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau's 'Walden'

Henry David Thoreau's Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Will COVID-19 Kill Movie Theaters?

Streaming services and large TV screens have really hurt movie theaters and now the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered multiplexes and arthouses. The author of The Perils of Moviegoing in America, however, is optimistic.

Gary D. Rhodes, Ph.D
Television

Fleabag's Hot Priest and Love as Longing

In season two of Fleabag, The Priest's inaccessibility turns him into a sort of god, powerful enough for Fleabag to suddenly find herself spending hours in church with no religious motivation.

Music

Annabelle's Curse's 'Vast Oceans' Meditates on a Groundswell of Human Emotions (premiere)

Inspired by love and life, and of persistent present-day issues, indie folk band Annabelle's Curse expand their sound while keeping the emotive core of their work with Vast Oceans.

Music

Americana's Sarah Peacock Finds Beauty Beneath Surface With "Mojave" (premiere + interview)

Born from personal pain, "Mojave" is evidence of Sarah Peacock's perseverance and resilience. "When we go through some of the dry seasons in our life, when we do the most growing, is often when we're in pain. It's a reminder of how alive you really are", she says.

Television

Power Struggle in Beauty Pageants: On 'Mrs. America' and 'Miss Americana'

Television min-series Mrs. America and Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana make vivid how beauty pageants are more multi-dimensional than many assume, offering a platform to some (attractive) women to pursue higher education, politics, and more.

Hilary Levey Friedman
Music

Pere Ubu 'Comes Alive' on Their New, Live Album

David Thomas guides another version of Pere Ubu through a selection of material from their early years, dusting off the "hits" and throwing new light on some forgotten gems.

Music

Woods Explore Darkness on 'Strange to Explain'

Folk rock's Woods create a superb new album, Strange to Explain, that mines the subconscious in search of answers to life's unsettling realities.

Music

The 1975's 'Notes on a Conditional Form' Is Laudably Thought-Provoking and Thrilling

The 1975 follow A Brief Inquiry... with an even more intriguing, sprawling, and chameleonic song suite. Notes on a Conditional Form shows a level of unquenchable ambition, creativity, and outspoken curiosity that's rarely felt in popular music today.

Music

Dustbowl Revival's "Queen Quarantine (A Home Recording)" Is a Cheeky Reproach of COVID-19 (premiere)

Inspired by John Prine, Dustbowl Revival's latest single, "Queen Quarantine (A Home Recording)", approaches the COVID-19 pandemic with wit and good humor.

Books

The 2020 US Presidential Election Is Going to Be Wild but We've Seen Wild Before

Americans are approaching a historical US presidential election in unprecedented times. Or are they? Chris Barsanti's The Ballot Box: 10 Presidential Elections That Changed American History gives us a brief historical perspective.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.