Microfilm – After Dark + Blueprints

Microfilm
After Dark + Blueprints

Chicago duo Microfilm makes pretty basic electronic music. The drum machine beats, the Human League synth strains, the bouncy bass: these ingredients have been around for a while. After Dark collects their works to date and comes with a bonus CD of remixes entitled Blueprints. The band has not been around for long but has clearly made a lot of friends — friends interested enough to remix the songs for Blueprints.

Microfilm throws in other some other elements common to the genre… you’ve got the treated distant vocals, the found-audio snippets from films or other recordings, the dropping out and re-emergence of the beat, and the occasional glitch-inspired chopping up of an instrument or lyric. It adds up to something that’s pretty predictable and safe. But then, this is electronic-oriented dance music, right? You succeed if you get people to move when they hear it. You fail if you send them to the exits covering their ears.

The CD of remixes does its job of showing what place creativity can play in this kind of music. The Tauchsieder remix of “Inhibitions” goes spacey and ambient, retaining only hints of the original. The Soundhog remix of the same song takes a different direction: slightly less groove, I guess, and a little darker than the original. Infantjoy takes the track “Non-Stop Dreaming” and dulls its edges until it’s more of a Boards of Canada kind of thing. Gone is the dance beat, gone is all of the insistence of the original, really. Added is a kind of “Fly Like an Eagle” or “Blinded by the Light” synth strobe. It’s patient and expansive. It’s a whole different song.

Kero’s remix of “Sex Education” is full-on glitch. Then again, the original version was grounded in glitch as well, so the departure between original and remix isn’t too grand. Frenchbloke has a winner with “What Have You Done To Its Eyes.” The first half of it floats beatlessly and the second half continues along with a trip-hop beat. I found that the remixes were usually more interesting than the originals, but then I’m not plugged into the IDM/dance scene. Those who are plugged in might want to throw out the ethereal nonsense and stick with the dancefloor-ready originals.