Altar Eagle: Nightrunners + Remixes tape (Crash Symbols, 2013)
Nightrunners is an album that I feel like I shouldn’t have to review; it’s easily one of my favorite albums of last year, by far, and I feel like everyone should’ve heard it by now and praised it as one of the best albums of the year. Plus, you know, I wrote for their website so I’m biased anyway. But I’m guessing most people haven’t heard Nightrunners yet, in which case you can just head on over to Bandcamp right now and hear what you’ve been missing. Musically, it’s just really incredible synth/dream-pop, the arrangements and vocals are a definite improvement over their first album, the songs are catchy and touching, and it alternately reminds me of older Morr Music stuff, mid-’90s µ-Ziq (the synth sounds anyway), and Land Of The Loops. I fucking love Land Of The Loops.
I’m guessing the vinyl is no longer available, but Crash Symbols released it on tape with a track-by-track remix album on the second side (this is very nearly sold out as of this blog post). This is also available on Bandcamp (for free, even) so even if the tape’s sold out you can still hear it. The remixes tend to go for a deconstructive approach, looping and chopping up sections of vocals, rarely just taking them as is and merely applying their original song structures to new beats. Interpretations range from Seekers International’s wild dub take on “Digital Gold Futures”, to No UFOs’ dub-techno version of “Parallel Lives”, to a sensuous downtempo mix by Discoverer of “No Spring Till Summer”. “Fledgling” is my favorite song on the original album, and Ghibli’s remix doesn’t even try to capture what makes the original so special; instead, it isolates a heavily distorted vocal snippet, and loops an ecstatic melody over a loud clapping beat, and it’s over in a couple of minutes. Ricardo Donoso does a big dramatic cinematic edit of “New Designs”, focusing on the “we’re all lost but we don’t care” chorus and truly placing it in an appropriate new context.