Review: S U R V I V E – RR7387


I imagine by this point, most of you reading this have already binged through all of Stranger Things season 2 at least once, getting into all sorts of speculative discussions in forums and such while gushing about everything from story turns to visuals to, of course, the soundtrack. And in a rather appropriate bit of overall timing, it appears Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s musical project S U R V I V E have a nice little goodie to whet the appetite while we wait for whatever their next big project is. This comes in the form of RR7387, a 4-track EP of remixes of songs taken from the group’s 2016 full-length release RR7349.

Since this release is pretty short, I’ll be going through it track by track, starting with “Cutthroat,” originally the closer on the previous full-length. The original version was primarily built on this eighth-note staccato synth melody that had light reverberations in the mix for the verses before going into some more prolonged synth tones in the choruses. The programmed drums are sparse but do feature a proper beat to them, and it’s a decent closer. The remix, coming from German-based producer Lena Willikens, preserves the base melodic structure of the original while expanding on the rhythmic structure, adding in more layers of delays and reverberation until it’s pushing a sort of 16th or even 32nd-note rhythm. This is on top of adding another primarily synth melody that works in conjunction with the original, and the drums are paired down to a simple kick rhythm that helps accentuate the industrial hissing and echoes of the rest of the remix. It’s a solid reworking that preserves the original while manage to expand upon it in a unique way.

The following track, a remix of “High Rise,” almost goes in the opposite direction, creatively speaking. The original track maintains a very floaty atmosphere to it and is overall a pretty mellow track, which is interesting considering the main driving synth lines are incredibly dense to the point of being almost shred-like in their construction. Outside of this, it’s a fairly light song that is heavy in atmosphere while being light on musical saturation. The remixed version, coming from producer Not Waving, in some ways preserve the broad atmospheric idea of the original, but by noticeable switching several aspects such as the tempo or the melody. The song is not much more rhythmically hard and steady instead of grooving and chill, and the synths are completely worked to the point where the melody of the original can barely be found anywhere here. The synth lines here are highly dynamic, engaged in constant crescendos and decrescendos as the lines layer one on top of the other, creating various contrasts as the synth leads layer on top of each other.

The next remix is of what is RR7349’s biggest, or at least its most standout song. “Wardenclyffe.” The original was a steady mid-tempo track that focused on an “encountering aliens” type of melodic atmosphere and arguably the most memorable synth melody on the record. The remix here is brought to us by Sam Haar, one half of the NY electronic duo Blondes. The tempo on the remix is much faster and dancier, with an emphasis on a multitude of pitched clicks to keep the tempo going as the synths swell and screech across the mix. They dissipate at various intervals while the rest of the music is accentuating this feeling, and the synth work is so layered that the original song’s predominant synth melody does not find its way anywhere in this mix. In a weird roundabout way, however, the song still manages to capture the idea of an alien abduction, which is what the original always sounded like to me. It’s the longest track on the album as well, clocking in at just shy of 9 minutes.

Perhaps most prominent is the remix of “Other” done by Justin K Broadrick, the industrial music titan behind projects like Godflesh and Jesu, under his JK Flesh moniker. The original track is a pretty moody low-key track, as the synth hums at a low register while plenty of industrialized hisses of steam fill every nook and cranny of the mix, but the song does repeat itself a little bit. JK Flesh’s version of the song opens with a variation of the synth melody that is slightly heavier on reverberating bass synths. The remix places emphasis on some of the synthy-sounding voice samples from the original, prolonging them further into a more essential part of the composition. The kick drum maintains a 4-on-the-floor kick pattern mixed in with plenty of high-pitched tweeting sounds. The rest of the production has this glitching industrial hiss interspersed throughout, and the back half of the song does pick up some more interesting drum parts and a more grating synth line to help flesh things out… no pun intended.

While this is just a remix EP that won’t feel like an essential part of any fans’ catalog, the contributions made to RR7387 are interesting enough to be worth a listen to hardcore fans. The producers gathered here manage to do unique jobs of interpreting the songs in their own ways, whether that be expanding on the original’s core or reworking them entirely. It’s worth a stream if you need something to tide you over until whenever the next proper full length drops.

Final Verdict:
 Stream it. RR7387 is an interesting little diversion that allows some other producers to showcase their talents, but there’s not much to say about it at the end of the day.

RR7387 is available from Relapse Records on CD, digital download (iTunes, Bandcamp, etc.), and streaming services. Check out S U R V I V E on Facebook and Bandcamp.

[Note: a copy of the album was provided by Relapse Records for the purpose of this review.]

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