Words: James Frostick
Artist image: Aaron Claringbold
Ela Stiles is today releasing a white-knuckled, adrenaline-fuelled remix of ‘Vilification Brunch’ – a similarly visceral number by post-punk foursome Voice Imitator. The remix swaps Voice Imitator’s motorik chug and echoing whispers for a wired pulsing synth thump, bringing the band’s deadpan and surrealist critique on modern living into sharp relief without lessening any of its minatory qualities.
Although I didn’t tell anyone here, I thought Voice Imitator’s bristly and bleak late-2020 LP Plaza was phenomenal. Thorny post-punk sonics counterbalanced by detached, dejected and distorted vocals is pretty much aural umami to by ear tongues so, in hindsight, I should have expressed my pleasure more promptly. My bad. Fortuitously, one of the album’s standout tracks has just been given a punchy reinterpretation, so it seems I’m not too late to the party (it’s probably more of an early-morning basement kick-on phase, or whatever). Today marks the release of a new remix for ‘Vilification Brunch’, crafted by by none other than Ela Stiles. The artist has pivoted away from a recent dalliance with haunting voice-and-harmonium compositions to contribute a scorching techno remix of Voice Imitator’s disaffected drubber.
For those unfamiliar with the source material, ‘Vilification Brunch’ was a bracing post-punk masterclass that leads with an oven-blast of heated noise, followed quickly by an unsettling-yet-hypnotic repetitive groove. Mark Groves’ vocals are saturated in effects, adding a spine-chilling menace to his musings on performative and superficial behaviours. Ela Stiles’ remix flips the script stylistically, trading grit for gloss and weighty chug for fleet-footed synth needling. The vocal effects are stripped away, too – removing the gnashing violence of the Mark’s original vocals and leaving behind an unsettling murmur. Much like how Voice Imitator revels in building atmosphere, Ela is equally skilled in piling on tension – maintaining the perfect intensity level until the song’s latter third. When Mark Groves drops the whisper and unleashes a naturally gravelly vocal outburst (“I’ve got a new stride“), Ela hits the switch – raising the energy to blisteringly dangerous levels. Adrenaline courses through the heart, bringing it to the verge of cardiac arrest. She holds us on this ecstatic brink for a minute and a half, long enough for us to begin confusing the blinding club strobes for the lights of heaven. Both interpretations stir visceral feelings, but the beauty of a remix is that it can offer up a new way of digesting the same underlying message. Thrilling!
Listen to Ela Stiles’ remix of Voice Imitator’s ‘Vilification Brunch’ here: