Oxide Tones’ Circle Project reflects a simple premise: three artists re-record, remix or reinterpret each other’s material. B covers A, C covers B, A covers C, and “the circle is closed” (with apologies to geometrists, who know it’s really a triangle). When the artists are open to alternate visions, the results can be gratifying, as they are here. The Eternal Twilight (featuring Noor Kadiwala, co-curator of the Hope for Japan project), is the most ambient of the three, The Echelon Effect (David Walters) is the most post-rock, and newcomer Barry Smethurst (Apta) is the most electronic. But as more post-rock is added to the electronic, ambience to the post-rock and electronic to the ambient, their work flows together as one.
In its initial incarnation, The Eternal Twilight’s “The Child” was a pretty, piano-led number, featuring active drums and bashing cymbals. Smethurst gives it a complete overhaul, changing the timbre and adding a host of electronic effects. The upgrades provide the track with greater variety and a sense of restraint. The Echelon Effect’s “What Makes Us So Uncommon” was a highlight of last year’s Mosaic, building rapidly from the guitar melody of its core to expand into swirling post-rock rings. Kadiwala adds a coat of Hammock-shaded varnish and brings vocals to the fore while preserving the original’s short speech. These vocals make the ending seem entirely new. Finally, Apta’s “Like You Woke Up Too Late”, a quiet, clicky stroller with a central high-pitched chime, becomes a piano-and-guitar driven builder in the hands of Walters: active instead of passive, massive where it had been slight, a brave extension of the original idea. Kudos for keeping the chime.
Reworkings are not always wise. At their worst, they can seem like vanity projects. Perhaps the knowledge that each artist would be both subject and sovereign led each to turn in their best work here. We’re looking forward to the next installment. (Richard Allen)