The Manichean, Lacerus Rising

The Manichean, Lacerus Rising

The Manichean’s name might be at the top of the marquee, so to speak, but on their new EP, Lacerus Rising, the band’s most definitely not the star of this particular show. Instead, this time out they’ve handed the reins over to a gang of remix-happy friends and told them to go nuts with “Lacerus,” probably the best track off their debut Whispers EP.

Now, I’m not generally all that keen on remix albums; 95% of the time, the “remixes” are barely worth the name, just versions of the same songs sped up or slowed down, with extra beats thrown on top. Here, however, I have to hand it to the remixers The Manichean folks have enlisted — the result of their efforts, this EP, is surprisingly impressive.

Of course, the EP starts off with the original version of the track in question, which should be familiar to fans of the band (especially since I think it’s the same recording as on Whispers); it’s still a great track, all near-overwrought drama, half-lidded Biblical references, tense, frantic guitars and busy arrangements, and an overall darkly foreboding feel, but on Lacerus Rising it’s more useful as a reference point, something to compare the rest of the EP to and pick out the differences.

And yeah, there’re quite a few of ’em. On “Lacerus Vs. Vincent Priceless (Electro-Smash Mix),” Vincent Priceless keeps the dark foreboding-ness of the original, but that’s about it. Robotic, distorted voices bubble up from below, while vicious, Nine Inch Nails-ish drum machines fight for dominance above — as far as I can tell, the vocal line is all that’s kept from the original, and it’s shredded and processed beyond recognition, to turn the original Decemberists-like dramatic-indie-rock tune into a track worthy of inclusion on the soundtrack of some cyberpunk movie starring Vin Diesel.

Then there’s “Lacerus Vs. Mirm (Bailao Triufante Mix),” which provides a quick, gentle kick upwards in tone, eschewing the murk in favor of a Beacoup Fish-era Underworld feel, with some great marimba(?) and burbling, squelching beats, and only the verse guitar riff and horns to the original song, repeated ad infinitum in the background. The result sounds appropriately like it could easily be played on a dancefloor somewhere in Ibiza or something (except that it’d honestly be cooler than most of what I’m guessing gets played in Ibiza).

I had high hopes for “Lacerus Vs. Will Schorre (8-Bit Mix),” but after a few listens, sadly, I’m finding the track somewhat middling. Which sucks, because, hey, it’s The Manichean doing the theme from The Legend of Zelda! Well, okay, not really. Instead, remixer Will Schorre’s taken the original “Lacerus” and kept the structure pretty much intact, just replacing the live band with thumping, scratchy-sounding, Nintendo-hell melodies and glitchy beats that could well be the background music to Karateka or something. It’s utterly ridiculous, yes, and it’s not mind-blowing, but I’ll admit that it’s still fun as hell. I suspect that those who are more into chiptune than I am may love it.

Vincent Priceless makes the second of his three appearances here with “Lacerus Vs. Vincent Priceless (Cave Dweller Mix),” which for some reason makes me think of early Enya, specifically the lyrics-less “The Long Ships” (off her self-titled solo debut). The remix has that same fuzzy, off-in-the-distance, “landscape” vibe to it, where you feel less like you’re listening to a song and more like you’re witnessing a scene of some kind. In this case, mind you, things unfold very, very slowly, so the scene you’re watching could well be that of a glacier rolling steadily down a crevasse, swalling everything in its path. As for the original song, well, it gets swallowed up in the process, calling from within the ice and snow as it’s buried.

“Lacerus Vs. Webby Appleton (That’s What’s Up Mix)” is the most dramatic of the bunch, which fits, considering the band… The “That’s What’s Up Mix” moves along sneakily, funky and street-level and cool, with hazy layers of high-flying noise sailing atop the original song. Then it shifts into a quasi-orchestral break bit, before abruptly exploding into skittering, head-snapping breakbeats with a shrieked “Oh, fuck!” (which, I’ll admit, I didn’t actually realize is what’s said early on in the song until I’d heard it pushed front-and-center here). This one’s like the laidback, funkdafied cousin of Leftfield, and that’s no bad comparison to make.

Last but not least, I have to wince and admit that I was a little disappointed by final track “Lacerus Rising (The Manichean Vs. Vincent Priceless).” I mean, I knew this was/is a remix EP, but still, with the title “Lacerus Rising,” I’d hoped maybe this would be a bonus new track…instead, it’s another remix.

Which is cool, but damn — I’m apparently having a hard time waiting for the band’s much-anticipated full-length (hopefully due out this coming year). Not that this is a bad one of the remix bunch, mind you; it’s initially menacing, under-the-surface, noisy form works nicely, and then when the stomping, four-on-the-floor beats and overpowering synths come thundering in, it turns into something else entirely. Which is basically the heaviest, grinding-est horror-flick techno/industrial theme song you’ve never heard — an impressive feat.

Like I said above, remix albums aren’t really my thing, and that’s due in part to the fact that they generally only matter to dyed-in-the-wool fans of the band, people who already know the remixed track by heart in its original form. It’s a serious credit to the people involved with Lacerus Rising that that’s not the case here — these remixes are so good, so distinctive, that they can easily stand on their own two feet.

[The Manichean is playing its EP release show 12/23/10 at Avant Garden, along with Will Schorre, Webby Appleton, Mirm, & Vincent Priceless.]
(self-released; The Manichean -- http://www.myspace.com/themanichean)
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Review by . Review posted Tuesday, December 21st, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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8 Responses to “The Manichean, Lacerus Rising

  1. Cory Sinclair on December 22nd, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    You are a rogue scholar, Jeremy Hart. We thank you!

    ~SInclair

  2. SPACE CITY ROCK » Tonight: The Manichean’s Lacerus Rising, at the Avant Garden (& Reviewed/MP3!) on December 23rd, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    […] The results are pretty great, and I say that as somebody who’s not generally all that keen on this sort of thing. Rather than sounding like slightly-tweaked versions of the song, each track sounds like a whole damn different song in itself, building a brand-new framework and feel based on a piece or two from the original. Check out the full review I wrote up of the EP on over here. […]

  3. Jeremy Hart on December 23rd, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    No problem, sir — it’s good stuff, seriously. The new tracks don’t exactly top the original version, mind you, but are their own distinct animals themselves…

  4. Robin Babb on January 3rd, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    I AM into chiptune stuff, and I say: that Will Schorre kid can sure make some tasty glitch-beats!

  5. Jeremy Hart on January 6th, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Heh. Well, I will bow to your superior knowledge of chiptune, in that case. :) Listen to Robin & not me on that one, y’all…

  6. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: Bright Men + Handsomes + Freedom of Movement + The Manichean + Miss Leslie + More on January 28th, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    […] replaced by Webby Appleton, who showed up recently as one of the remixers on The Manichean’s Lacerus Rising remix EP (which is very cool, by the […]

  7. SPACE CITY ROCK » Summerfest Lineup to Be Revealed, on Valentine’s Day on February 9th, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    […] that Vincent Priceless is providing the music; his contributions to The Manichean‘s recent Lacerus Rising remix EP were pretty damn great… Post by Jeremy Hart. This entry was posted on […]

  8. SPACE CITY ROCK » Giveaway/Upcoming Show Time: The Manichean Releases New Album LOVERS, This Saturday (and You Could Be There!) on November 22nd, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    […] all of whom I like, plus {Night Drive} and DJ-ish(?) guy {Portal Walker}, who’s incidentally done some remixes for The Manichean in days […]

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