The Electronic Anthology Project – of Dinosaur, Jr.Posted by Ashleen Aguilar
The Electronic Anthology Project
In 2009, Built to Spill’s Brett Nelson decided he wanted to take a few of his band’s songs and remix them with a new wave twist. He enlisted BtS vocalist Doug Martsch to re-record the vocals and released the collection as The Electronic Anthology Project.
With his latest efforts, Nelson has turned his focus on J Mascis and Dinosaur, Jr. Nelson remixed songs from early in Dinosaur, Jr.’s career, pulling mostly from 1987’s You’re Living All Over Me, although gems from 1988’s Bug (“Pond Song”) and 1994’s Without a Sound (“Feel the Pain”) made the cut as well. J Mascis contributed new vocals to the project, but not all of the songs sounded too different from his originals. Both versions of “Feel the Pain,” for example, run parallel to each other. Mascis’ version is based around guitar riffs and live percussion, Nelson’s is synthesizers over drum machines. But the ethos of the song is pulled from the vocal performance with Mascis staying consistent in both renditions.
“Sludgefeast” and “Tarpit” are great reinterpretations, both taking to synthesizers well. The drum machine punches throughout “Sludgefeast” with synths soothing its verses. “Tarpit” mellows out under Nelson’s treatment. It’s a song to listen to while watching the sun rise, with smooth melodies and celestial effects layered over quiet percussion.
Most of Nelson’s remixes turn the old songs into fun dance tracks, but the transformation doesn’t always fit. Part of the appeal of early Dinosaur, Jr. records is the grit and grunge inherent in the analog recordings. Here they are just too clean, like they need a mud pie shoved in their faces. The original “Raisans” is exactly what you’d want to dance to at a house party, but Nelson sterilizes it. It’s still a fun club song, but the original is better.
With TEAP, Nelson is bridging the gap between the latest generation of music consumers and influential artists from the 1980s and 90s. A lot of contemporary pop music draws influence from purely electronic roots. David Guetta brought House music to terrestrial radio. Skrillex and dub-step is the (almost so-five-minutes-ago) hot scenester trend. Electronic festivals such as Decibel Festival are growing in popularity. Although the project is still young, TEAP is putting original alternative musicians, such as Dinosaur, Jr., in terms that appeal to young music enthusiasts. TEAP can potentially remind them of electronic music’s genesis from rock ‘n roll, and hopefully inspire them to pick up some good old, guitar-driven, alt-rock classics.
NOTE: The Electronic Anthology Project of Dinosaur, Jr. will be released on 12” vinyl as part of Record Store Day. Support your local record stores on April 21, 2012!