Andy Bell: Variance: The Torsten The Bareback Saint – Remixes – album review

Andy Bell - VarianceAndy Bell – Variance: The ‘Torsten The Bareback Saint’ Remixes (Strike Force Entertainment)

CD / DL

4 September 2015

8.5 / 10

Erasure vocalist releases new remix album. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.

Although better known as one half of one of the World’s biggest ever selling pop duo’s Andy Bell is probably lesser recognised for his solo work. On Variance his fifth album, remixes from his stunning song-cycle album Torsten The Bareback Saint (see review here) not only serve to propel the soundtrack further, but also act as a pre-cursor to the forthcoming Torsten The Beautiful Libertine project. With re-sung vocals, alternate and new lyrics, and new instrumentation the album is able to easily stand alone.

One of the highlights from Bareback Saint, Weston-Super-Mare is featured in five of the nine tracks making the album a carrier for it as new single release. The Radio Super Mix provides the version which deserves to be heard constantly with its near Solsbury Hill guitar hook, it revers the tale of lost love in the Somerset holiday resort. The descriptive lyric is synonymous with the original album as it unfolds into a stunning storyboard.

With the Extended Version, the guitars are replaced with piano and the percussion completely cut-out. With maybe an accordion or basic keyboard the track is beautiful in its simplicity.

Two remixes by Dancing With Ruby and mOOger! create different sides to Weston-Super-Mare and the near ballad sounds perfectly at ease as a different genre. With the Dancing With Ruby version the song is quickened slightly with an Erasure-esque bass line and simple percussive effect. The mOOger! remix seems to slow the track even further with a spaced out bass creating a near electro ambience fluttering away with a clinical drum sound.

The highlight of the album comes in the mindfuck that is the Industrial Soundscape Mix. ‘Re-imagined’ by Bell together with two of the soundtrack writers Barney Ashton and Christopher Frost the mix focuses on a multi layered spoken word lyric over collages of sound creeping in and exiting out with an almost haunting effect. Incredibly experimental, it will undoubtedly be the talking point and is well worth the price of the cd it itself.

Away from Weston-Super-Mare comes an Electropop Remake of Bingo Hall Baby. A fan favourite from Torsten with Andy providing the voice of a risqué compere it returns to the pop beat that we are maybe more familiar with, and maybe hints to a guilty passion of his (Erasure fans will recall participating in a game of Bingo midway through the live performance on 2004s The Tank, The Swan And Balloon tour).

With Radio Remixes of previous singles I Don’t Like and Fountain Of Youth, Andy’s voice is able to shine as possibly one of the most underrated voices in modern pop to the vast talent that it is. Slightly different to the album versions with added subtleties they rightly obtain the attention that they deserve. Fountain Of Youth in particular sours like an incredible phoenix over added vocals and quite brilliant orchestration.

The closing track, a Promotional Medley of the original album is a strange addition. Possibly working well as a video clip is maybe loses its charm, but does hint at the quality of gems like the gorgeously angry Mobile from one of last year’s finest albums.

~

The Torsten website is here: saint-torsten.com. He can be on Twitter as @Saint_Torsten and liked on Facebook.

The Andy Bell website is here: andybell.com. He can be followed on Twitter as @AndyBell_info and liked on Facebook.

All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop Blog and you can follow him on Twitter here, and on Facebook here. You can also follow him on Twitter as @saveonthewire for all On The Wire news.

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