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Deftones - 'Black Stallion' Review


1. Feiticeira (Clams Casino remix)

2. Digital Bath (DJ Shadow remix)

3. Elite (Blanck Mass remix)

4. Rx Queen (Salva remix)

5. Street Carp (Phantogram remix)

6. Teenager (Robert Smith remix)

7. Knife Prty (Purity Ring remix)

8. Korea (Trevor Jackson remix)

9. Passenger (Mike Shinoda remix)

10. Change (In the House of Flies) (Tourist remix)

11. Pink Maggit (Squarepusher remix)

Back in 2000, The Deftones released, what most consider as their masterpiece album, 'White Pony'.

Twenty years later, to celebrate the release, they've collaborated with a number of producers and artists for this remix album, 'Black Stallion', re-imagining tracks from the past, and letting them loose with their own stylings to create a second disc for the anniversary edition of the album.

I jumped at the chance to review this, not only being a fan of The Deftones, but being a huge fan of Dance Music (my wrapped this year on spotify lists EDM as my favourite genre). It also gives me a chance to seek out new tracks for future set-lists when Djing. It's a big old triple win for me!

So on first listen, I was shocked to find the album as a whole, a little downbeat. I've got used to remix albums being high tempo affairs (The Enter Shikari album, 'Mindsweep: Hospitalised', was absolutely full of bangers) and this was an entirely different affair. There's an over-riding atmosphere throughout the album that helps it become more than just eleven tracks from totally different genres thrown together.

Be it the works of Purity Ring and Phantogram remixing 'Knife Prty' and 'Street Carp' respectively, stripping the song back to its core, and enfusing the tracks with their own brand of dream pop and electronic synth vibes, to tracks remixed by Clams Casino and Blanck Mass ('Feiticeira' and 'Elite') using the guitar tracks on the album, however in totally seperate ways to build up their take on the songs, the tracks are superbly produced and show off the talents of all involved.

DJ Shadow, in a departure from his usual breaks and Hip-Hop beat styling, remixes 'Digital Bath' with more of a trap beat, but this slowed down beat, and the use of the original vocals creates a beautifully haunting version of what was my favourite track on the original album. The Deftones originally had this producer in mind for remixes on the album and this has brought it full circle, showing that he fully understood the album as a whole.

The darker, bleaker elements of the album are shown throughout, and there's a feeling of dread on the 'Salva' remix of 'RX Queen' that feels like the Manic Street Preachers track 'The Intense Humming of Evil'. This was true in the first instance, but particulary at the start of the track is brought even further to the forefront before devolving into a choppy, randomised drum beat, that does even more to unsettle you throughout. It cleverly works for the track and for a producer who has worked with acts such as Rihanna in the past, shows the artistic ability even further.

Tourist's remix of 'Change (in the house of flies)' is probably the most uptempo track on the album and the repeated use of the single line of vocals from the start of the song and the upbeat breakbeat rhythm both contribute again once the track fully gets going, and the Mike Shinoda Remix of 'Passenger' sounds exactly as you'd expect, in that it has elements of the original track and yet feels like it would fit just as easily on the 'Reanimation' album from Linkin Park in 2002. Slow and echoing the original, but the beat behind it is so finely produced you can't help but wonder what it would have sounded like with a vocal from Chester Bennington.

There are a couple of duds in my own opinion. The Robert Smith remix of 'Teenager' is less a remix and more of a re-master, using almost the entireity of the original song, removing the electronic drum beats from the end and adding a piano line. It's so close to the original that it doesn't do much on here and Trevor Jackson's version of 'Korea' was such a departure and used so little of the original track, that it feels totally removed from the source material and doesn't really do anything for me.

'Pink Maggit' remixed by Squarepusher starts off with promise and works its way through the original track well with some great work until the mid-point of the song which turns into a slowly evolving, single guitar riff, that glitches around and carries on a good minute or so too long in my opinion. Finishing with the original slow guitar riff from the end of the album helps it close the album but shaving a little from this track would of helped it enormously.

The whole album could be fed into a triple A video game as the score and work beautifully. The album works well as a whole with the eeriness and atmosphere flowing throughout all the tracks, with the odd uplifting moment and the echoing feeling of dread in others. It's not without its flaws, but as a companion disc to the original album, doesn't overshadow it, nor feel like something that you can just throwaway after the first listen.

Standout Tracks: Passenger, Change (in the house of flies), Street Carp

Review - Oli Williams


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