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Reverse Migration

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Album Review

As the remix album format has become increasingly popular, it has also come to encompass a wider array of approaches towards the communal editing of one artist's pre-existing material. There's no better example than the digital-only Reverse Migration, on which Au Revoir Simone's The Bird of Music gets scrambled up by a collision of different methodologies that largely flounder and fail to recapture the cohesion of the originals. As a basis for the remixes, the all girl synth pop group's shimmering 2007 album at first certainly seems ripe for further development; immersed in washes of layered keyboards, their charmingly gorgeous songs provide a wealth of great hooks and melodic invention while maintaining a simple consistency that suggests the potential for sonic expansion. Unfortunately, these remixes only end up revealing how essential the simplicity of the initial instrumental approach is to the success of the material. Reverse Migration opens with what is apparently the band's own remake of "The Lucky One," reduced to a simple acoustic ditty which senselessly revs up into a hyperactive workout towards the finish. "Don't See the Sorrow" is an out-and-out acoustic cover by Keith Murray, and it's not the only place where a song is completely re-recorded by the remixer: Mark-Anthony Tieku's take on "The Way to There," for one, is a complete overhaul which only samples the original at the end. On the other hand, "Sad Song (Pacific! Remix)" doesn't stray too far from its source, essentially adding a bouncy bassline that accentuates the song's poppy chord structure. Montag's remix of "A Violent Yet Flammable World" lends the song an air of dreamy trepidation, cautiously building on a bed of chimes and plucked strings, but halfway through it abruptly flies hell-bent into bland rave-up territory which undermines the whole thing. Ideally, a remix should bring something fresh to the table that makes it compelling in its own right, and not just add needless embellishments and pointless rhythmic turnarounds. Only several of these tracks succeed in that regard: the innovative "Night Majestic (Matt Harding Remix)" strips away the bubbly synths in favor of a fractured, guitar driven sound, while Alexis Taylor brings his distinctive Hot Chip flavor to another version of "Sad Song." The song is more or less his own extended composition until the last several minutes, when he takes the original music and turns it into a remarkably affective acoustic lament. In general, few amidst the recent flurry of remix albums actually succeed, with Nine Inch Nails' Y34RZ3r0 R3mix3d being a particular exception. Most others, like Stars' Do You Trust Your Friends?, fall way short of the mark. Reverse Migration falls primarily in the latter camp, turning a remarkably substantive synth-pop album into a far more typical affair.


Formed: 2003 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The Brooklyn indie pop outfit Au Revoir Simone features Heather D'Angelo (vocals/drum machine/keyboard), Erika Forster (vocals/keyboard), and Annie Hart (vocals/keyboard). Borrowing their name from a minor character in the Tim Burton comedy Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, the Casio-centric group came together in late 2003, when Forster and Hart befriended one another while traveling by train from Vermont to New York. From there, they became fast friends and began writing songs together. D'Angelo and Sung...
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Reverse Migration, Au Revoir Simone
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