We’ve barely had time to recover from the first incarnation of The Mindsweep, but the London genre-crossers have wiped this incredible album clean and started all over again, teaming up with the drum and bass legends at Hospital Records to create The Mindsweep: Hospitalised (9/10), a remixed rethinking of the original classic. Yep, it means the Shikarian synths have taken more of a front seat this time around, ultimately resulting in way less of their staple heavy riffs and kitwork. But this is by no means a bad thing.
One particular worry I had was whether the guys at Hospital could even begin to match the continuity of the original – the whole thing was a story, a journey from start to finish. How could a remix album even come close to progressiveness of The Mindsweep? Each and every song has been reworked by a different artist under the Hospital label, it was basically a given that this was going to be a mere compilation album. Turns out it isn’t. Somehow.
First off, it’s important to say that every damn song has been turned on its head. The big anthems have been reduced to achingly beautiful soundscapes, whereas the more ballad-like songs from January’s release have been granted mosh-worthy choruses and drops. “The Appeal and the Mindsweep I” is a brilliant introduction to the new drum and bass flavours. Its textbook buildups and drops, however, give no warning to what’s coming next. “The One True Colour”, once a chaotic thrasher which jolted the original album into action, is now a haunting lament, giving Reynold’s poetic vocals a completely new lease of life. “Never Let Go of the Microscope” and “Myopia” receive similar treatments, and these two introduce a surprisingly dark segment of the album. This only goes to show how non-“stereotypical” these remixes are – heavy and repetitive rhythms which are so often associated with the genre are by no means what this record is about.
Having said that, when these guys do in fact give it the beans, both standard Shikari fans and drum and bass veterans will find it hard not to jump around the room. Fan favourites “The Last Garrison” and “Anaesthetist” are now slower but this never manages to compromise their pure power – if anything it amplifies it. Even the somewhat overshadowed “Interlude” from the original album has had a total overhaul from its veiled bookend-y nature into a song of its own. Now complete with guest vocals from The Erised frontwoman Sonya Sukorukova, this is one to really listen out for.
It is “Dear Future Historians”, however, which makes it. An almost purely piano-based ballad would arguably be the hardest thing to transform, but London Elektricity have proved that the results can be incredible if done right. A slightly faster pace has not compromised the pure gorgeousness of Rou’s tear-jerking vocals, giving the song the perfect chill-out treatment. Its powerful yet incredibly relaxing beat perfectly introduces the conclusion of the album, supported by Rou’s harrowing closing screams.
The album, in short, is exceptionally impressive. Even parody song Slipshod has received its own makeover, courtesy of Urbandawn, as well as the album’s benchmark concluder, “The Appeal and the Mindsweep II”. Remix albums are so often considered to be “extras” that are never quite as good as the real thing, but how could someone deny that these tracks are not on the same virtuosic level as Shikari’s other material? All we need now is a tour where this stuff is showcased live – both old-time Shikari fans and drum and bass newcomers will not be disappointed.