Sole & The Skyrider Band: Sole & The Skyrider Band Remix LP

This is a noisy batch of doom and gloom that re-works Sole's solid 2007 effort while maintaining a sense of coherence and moody beauty.

Sole & the Skyrider Band

Sole & The Skyrider Band Remix LP

Contributors: Astronautalis, Radical Face, Dosh, Odd Nosdam, Thavius Beck, Otem Relik, Sleeper, Telephone Jim Jesus, Pictureplane, Subtitle, Andrew Broder, Bit Tuner, Son Lux, Egadz
Label: Black Canyon
US Release Date: 2009-02-17
UK Release Date: Available as import

Sometimes, though justifiably, remix albums get a bad rap. Besides the fact that anyone with a computer can remix a song these days, the end product typically is less than impressive or depreciates the quality of the original piece. In those cases, you cannot blame anyone for hating on a "new" version of a song that essentially turns the piece into a noisy mess and/or loses the track's integrity. Then, there is the dreaded stereotypical hip-hop remix featuring a DJ screaming every 30 seconds and one or two new verses that really add nothing substantial. Luckily, though, there are always exceptions. Those include the classic remixes done by Pete Rock and J Dilla as well as more recent efforts such as AmpLive's phenomenal Rainydayz Remixes project. And now, we can add this, the Sole & The Skyrider Band Remix LP, to the pile of remix CDs worthy of your time.

But be forewarned: a prototypical hip-hop remix album this is not. As any fan of this anticon.'s co-founder knows, Sole's take on rap is hardly conventional. Like his labelmates Doseone (of Subtle and others) and Yoni Wolf (of Why? and others), Sole spits essays filled with punchlines, self-deprecation, braggadocio, and social criticisms at a sometimes blistering speed. And if you can't track down the lyrics to his songs, I bid you good luck in comprehending exactly what he's saying. But that's part of his, and his cohort's, appeal. They supply depth, sometimes too much depth actually, to a genre that is currently in the public's cross-hairs for being overly superficial.

And for Sole's new group's debut, which originally dropped in 2007, he took his syllable-happy shenanigans to another level. With the Skyrider Band behind him, the emcee went to darker territory, though he was never one for sunshine. The album's apocalyptic, end-of-the-world overtones were littered throughout both the lyrics and song titles, so those without a cheat sheet had a least a semblance of what was going on. For example, here's a trio of appropriately-named tracks that bleed social-criticism: "A Sad Day for Investors", "Nothing is Free", and "The Sound of Head on Concrete". Clearly, something was bothering Sole when he penned this album. So, with that, it's only fitting that the recently remixed version of this album is even more primed for the world's end. Who can blame Astronautalis, for example, for transforming the already solemn "A Sad Day for Investors" into an epic, distorted anthem full of gritty drums and scratchy pianos. "Magnum" features similar sounds as Sleeper blends laptop drums with noisy, shoegazing guitar as Sole offers lyrics based on the Jonestown Massacre.

Sounds inviting, doesn't it? Well, it's obvious to anyone who listens to music that truly beautiful, touching songs and albums are mostly crafted out of despair, longing, fear, anger, and every other extreme emotion out there. So while this album deserves a slight knock for its overwhelming bleak outlook, it deserves the same amount of credit to sticking to a firm script. Sure it might turn off the happy-go-lucky crowd, but who the hell thought they would play this anyway? Well, to be fair, they are fairly serviced into a few tracks on here, such as the out-of-place remix of "On Cavalry" by Pictureplane. The track essentially turns into a rave anthem by the end, which is disappointing because it at first sounds more like Sole's hope is catching its second wind. Instead, it just gets noisy and scatterbrained. Luckily, its brightness is balanced by an equally upbeat but more focused remix of "The Shipwreckers" from Otem Relik. The producer adds keys and a wheezy melody to the track that was once devastatingly morose.

What's most intriguing piece about this abstract hip-hop puzzle is how a who's-who of left-field producers have somehow captured an overall balanced and cohesive sound. While there are a few bumps in the road, like the disappointing "The Bridges Let Us Down (Thavius Beck remix)", everyone on here basically kills it. From Radical Face's reverb-drenched guitar and ominous piano on "Nothing is Free" to Odd Nosdam's droning ambient synthesizers on "One Egg Short of an Omelet", Sole & The Skyrider Band Remix LP is a noisy batch of songs that's sure worth your time. Just don't expect to walk away with a grin on your face.






'We're Not Here to Entertain' Is Not Here to Break the Cycle of Punk's Failures

Even as it irritates me, Kevin Mattson's We're Not Here to Entertain is worth reading because it has so much direct relevance to American punks operating today.


Uncensored 'Native Son' (1951) Is True to Richard Wright's Work

Compared to the two film versions of Native Son in more recent times, the 1951 version more acutely captures the race-driven existential dread at the heart of Richard Wright's masterwork.


3 Pairs of Boots Celebrate Wandering on "Everywhere I Go" (premiere)

3 Pairs of Boots are releasing Long Rider in January 2021. The record demonstrates the pair's unmistakable chemistry and honing of their Americana-driven sound, as evidenced by the single, "Everywhere I Go".


'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.


Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".


PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.


Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.


Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.


Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.


Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.


A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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