The Pheonix Remixes The Latest

Pheonix is one of those many European alt rock bands that had the good business sense (and poor cultural sense) to write their lyrics in the world’s lingua franca rather than that of their own country. The Académie française would surely disapprove that this French group is not singing in la belle langue, but the rest of us who have become comfortable with worldwide English language hegemony are breathing a sigh of relief – it permits us, for example, to easily recognize Pheonix’s newest hit, “Lisztomania.”

The original song is solid – a catchy guitar-driven, standard alt beat single (its title refers to crowd frenzies at 19th century Hungarian pianist virtuoso Franz Liszt’s concerts). But its the remixes that give it that extra two dimensions of instrumental depth & make it really stay in your head. I have two favorites. The first remix, by Shook, gives “Lisztomania” a driving 80′s dance beat that borders on early hip-hop (think Grandmaster Flash), then fills out the rest with synth flourishes. He even changes the instrumental background on the opening chords from rhythm guitar to sustained piano chords. It’s a great example of what the ideal remix does to a song – changes it and makes the new stuff worth listening to, while keeping the qualities that made the song good in the first place:

Redial put out a great version, too – he doesn’t add as many arpeggios or extended synth solos as Shook does, but he speeds the song up and starts from the chorus rather than the first verse. The real payoff is the second time the chorus comes around – he submerges the beat in a deep, throbbing bass that totally throws you off guard:

“1901,” the first single off Wolfgang Amadeus Pheonix, their latest studio album, is filled with enough thumping electronic rock that it could be a remix in and of itself. But the songwriting here is great, too – this band isn’t a one-trick pony. There have been a number of remixes of this one, too, but it doesn’t seem to lend itself to other producers’ re-imagination as well as “Lisztomania” does. Better to listen to the original:

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