Album Review: Antiphone (Roberto Carlos Lange Remixes)
You know that famous quote about how great minds discuss ideas instead of events or people? The one often misattributed to Eleanor Roosevelt? I’m not sure the derisive parts of it are helpful (I’m pretty sure great minds discuss people and events just like everybody else), but the first part has always stuck with me, and Roberto Carlos Lange‘s new Antiphone remixes strike me as an illuminating example.
I had the opportunity to sit down with composer Trey Pollard for an interview a short time before he released Antiphone, his 2018 album of contemporary classical chamber pieces. (Read the resulting Auricular article here.) There’s a moment from that conversation that sticks out in my memory, both for Pollard’s expression at the time — focused, like you might be when considering an interesting visual detail — and for the precision with which he was able to capture the beginning of his creative process:
For me, composing, or really dealing with music in any way, is about uncovering something in whatever it is you’re working with. You have a small germ of an idea, some musical piece, just a little something, and you uncover it, somewhat, to see what it is…
Whether you’re uncovering like a sculptor or extrapolating like a novelist, ideas are art’s nuclear infrastructure, and it was such a joy tracing Pollard’s works back to the atomic level to discuss what inspired them. But the beauty of remixing songs is that the whole process starts over. Any element — from the foundational to the incidental — can serve as a singular jumping-off point.
What we have here is an embarrassment of riches, from the deep well provided by the Antiphone source material to Roberto Carlos Lange’s empathetic brilliance. You may know Lange as Helado Negro, and you may already know that Pollard and Lange have collaborated in the past, including on 2017’s Private Energy. But you don’t need to know any of that to hear what I hear in these five remixes, which is an exchange of ideas between to great musical minds.
Lange zooms in to pick up parts of Pollard’s compositions and see how the light hits them from different angles. I’m especially fond of “Fixed Ideas – Open Remix,” which turns the opening moments of Antiphone into their own lush, roomy landscape. The opening figure from Pollard’s original piece hangs in the air like a question, and Lange’s remix doesn’t so much answer it as point to the elegance with which it was asked. Imagine you’re walking on the moon, bouncing around in your spacesuit in slow motion, and you encounter a flower — a tiny riot of color set against the grey and black of your peripheral vision — and you end up staring at that flower for two and a half minutes. That’s “Fixed Ideas – Open Remix.”
Lange also works in between Pollard’s ideas to examine the character of the space in which Antiphone was made. There are so many songs that make me wish I could have been a fly on the wall at Montrose Recording, but the airy processing at the pizzicato start of “8 Pairs: Prelude VIII – Bend Remix” makes you feel like you’re right there, your ear hovering just a few inches above the strings being plucked to make Pollard’s notes come to life.
I hate to be the “If there’s a silver lining in this coronavirus situation…” guy, but I do believe this is a great time to slow down and meditate on the beauty that surrounds us — to observe the little miracles that are harder to notice when the chaotic machine of everyday life is running at full speed. Whether Lange’s Antiphone remixes are the focal point of your meditation or the means by which you access that mind space, I’d recommend tuning in for this fascinating wordless conversation.
Roberto Carlos Lange’s remix of Antiphone is out now, available to stream and purchase over at Bandcamp.