CD, Sistinas Music, 2006
Phantom West, the brainchild of Timothy A Clark, releases an album length EP of original tracks with an array of remixes by the likes of The Operative, Vuxnut, Manufactura and Caustic. The tracks featured on “The Rain Expedition EP” are drawn from Clark’s 2005 debut album “Chimaera” and his forthcoming second album “Aleph Null”, both on Sistinas.
Clark’s music is reminiscent of 80’s synthpop with a hard post-industrial undercurrent and touches of classical orchestration. “The Winter Market (Overture)” from his first album “Chimaera” is entirely orchestral but when Clark reworks it, it becomes a melancholic plodding industrial track with a military targeting slant. The only other reinterpretation of this track is by Manufactura who transform it into a throbbing industrial torture machine. The lengthy “Nova”, also from “Chimaera”, features some fairly generic elastic beats before freaking out into a 5 minute drum frenzy that maintains a certain soundtrack quality but fails to lift it above average. Clark’s ‘Type III remix’ adds some pace and a harder edge to the original, improving on his original concept but still failing to meet its potential. It is left to Vaclav to get a bit more adventurous by adding deep floor-shaking bass, some crazed metallic percussion, hi-tech blips and whirs and a discrete orchestral backing to produce a much improved rework with added cinematic tension.
The last of the original tracks is the title track and it is also the most remixed track on the EP. The original version features some sharp precise beats and driving energy but is let down by some questionable singing and lyrics. The Operative chooses to retain the sharp beats and transform the vocals into ghostly echoes, adding the pre-requisite blips, whirs and effects and throwing in what sounds like a Depeche Mode sample. Overall, an improvement on the original by transforming it into a throbbing bubbly experimental electro noise trip. Tonikom opt for a techno trance approach while Hazing Ritual experiment with droning breaks version, unfortunately both too generic to hold much merit. Vuxnut however gets more adventurous and experiments with distorted metallic percussion and a low grinding industrial drone to produce an interesting offering while Sysex provides a short glitchy interlude more than a remix. Cacophony’s take on “The Rain Expedition” is a crazed noisy beat onslaught complete with siren like tones. One of the better remixes comes from Caustic, who retains the best of the retro aspects and the ‘rain’ sample from the original, adds a discrete level of metallic rhythms low in the mix and gives the whole thing more presence and a solid driving beat.
The original album tracks on “The Rain Expedition” draw influences from several sources and, while they show sparks of promise, generally fail to realise their potential, and remain in the average category. Clark’s reworks show further potential and an ability to reinterpret existing ideas but it is left to the respective remixers to really push the boundaries of the original tracks and turn them into something completely new and adventurous. Of the remixes featured here, those by The Operative, Vaclav, Vuxnut and Caustic are the most intriguing prospects.
— Paul Lloyd