There has been a recent tendency on A Closer Listen when we have reviewed the remix album of a record that we’ve missed on the initial release. So as we have previously looked at Eartheater’s Phoenix: La Petite Mort Edition and Lyra Pramuk’s Delta, it is time for Dohnavùr. But one of the points of a remix project is to raise the profile of the original work. That’s why record labels used to have a sizeable remix budget, why electronic producers ended up remixing the most unlikely of original tracks, and why collectors hunt down the remix promo 12” on Discogs even to this day. It’s a total coincidence but worth noting that Heavenly Remixes, a two-CD set dedicated solely to reworkings by Andrew Weatherall was released on the same day of The Flow Across Borders: The Remixes.
The Orb were contemporaries of Weatherall, and they too have enjoyed having their remixes compiled – it’s quite the feather in the cap for a producer. They are the biggest name on this remix album and the main attraction for ambient heads. Although there is a good chance Orbsessives will already have the track. The Rest and Be Thankful remix of “New Objectivity” actually arrived in May 2021 on the 12” single that heralded The Flow Across Borders. The Orb’s profile remains high enough for their version to warrant being the lead track on the full album as well. It is a charming thing, with Dr. Alex Paterson running through his box of samples and sound effects, stretching out one of the shorter tracks on the original album to a near 10-minute ambient techno voyage.
Dohnavùr are the Scottish duo of Ali O’Day, who provides the modular improvisations, and Frazer Brown, who adds the extra elements. The Flow Across Borders, their second full-length, retained a consistency of sound while branching out across the electronic genres from bucolic ambient to near rave bangers. It’s an approach to production that probably lends itself to the remix; O’Day’s stems as retained as foundations for a new mix, with what we imagine to be a chunk of Brown’s efforts pushed aside. The other high profile remixer, Richard Norris (of The Grid and Beyond The Wizards Sleeve), does just that, keeping the sinewy bass riff of “The Kindness Of Others” and putting an array of psychedelic whooshes and ambient swoops over the top.
The remaining five remixes are supplied by producers associated with Castles In Space, who might be new to listeners unfamiliar with the label. Letters From Mouse take the beatless “Pwll Du” and freshen it up with a mid-paced rhythmic backbone. Conversely, Kieran Mahon takes the up-tempo “Sunk” – one of the busiest tracks on the original – and slows it down, stripping out the drums and adding a hypnotic pulse, topped off with a lovely shimmer. These remixers understand the assignment: they provide a flipside of Dohnavùr’s work, an indication of what might have been. It’s a superb balance of retaining the character of the original album while showing what the Castles In Space brethren can do, alongside the higher-profile producers. (Jeremy Bye)