New York-based female duo hands out nice enough floor plans, lets its remixers build houses.
Telepathe are two Brooklyn girls who self-describe their gauzy electro as "Ying Yang Twins meet Cocteau Twins", which is almost as apt as it is a nice turn of phrase. The duo's Chrome's on It EP sports a 3:1 remix to original ratio, which wouldn't be objectionable if the EP's two originals were more compelling and alluring rough drafts.
"Chrome's on It" opens with and loops an unmistakable Mannie Fresh drum stutter under suffocating house synths and ethereal vocals for the first minute, until the song switches into what is the EP's most tuneful moment: over chunky bass hits, the girls let float a sticky chorus -- "I can feel the real bang-bang / I can do the real thang-thang". It sounds a little like if M.I.A. was a syrup addict, but the song gets hung up on that one idea -- that one chorus -- and ends up stumbling over itself as it finishes.
Another problem -- Chrome's on It EP's biggest, ultimately -- is that "Chrome's on It" is soundly upstaged by its subsequent remixes. The Mad Decent remix airs the song out and adds buoyant, less clunky drums. Where the original slurs and lumbers, the Mad Decent mix (no specific remixer named) bounces and pogos. The real winner, though, is the remix by LA spazz punks the Mae Shi, whose version goes for the pop jugular by looping the original's vocals into a lilting "oh, oh, oh" refrain. Their remix also has a critical quality that the original doesn't: it builds up to something. In this case, it's a surprisingly melodic trance track that has the chops of M83 and the hugeness of MGMT. It only further underscores the original's (purposeful?) skeletal blandness.
"Bells", the EP's other original, leans hard on chopped 808s, and its low end bangs hard, as it rightfully should. Yet, Telepathe still leave something to be desired -- another interesting musical element, a chorus, anything. The remix by NYC post-punks Free Blood ups the original's dark, gothic tones with bloodcurdling synth screeches, haunted house piano riffs, and by making the girls' vocals even more ghostly. It hits its mood head on, but its release of looping the voices into unrecognizable coos doesn't pay off. The second remix, by beatmaker Bobby Evans, is even more transparent, opening with Dracula laughs, but no less inessential.
Telepathe's debut full-length awaits a February 17th release. It's called Dancemother, but based on Chrome's on It EP, that title sounds a little like wishful thinking. Where Telepathe has sketched out nice enough mood music, its remixers -- especially Mad Decent and the Mae Shi -- have turned in fully-formed dance songs. If their debut album is really going to knock like they want, Telepathe will need to provide the flesh, too.