Various Artists: ‘The Other Side-New York-Fischerspooner’

A few plaintive howls from Bloc Party’s “Helicopter (Sheriff Whitey mix)”, and the mood is set for… a primal, unbridled release. Such is the tone of ‘The Other Side – New York’, a compilation that has been put together by electro-art act Fischerspooner at Time Out magazine’s request.

In 2005, Time Out put together a series of three dualdiscs, including the Paris and London editions, compiled by Black Strobe and Damian Lazarus respectively. The concept behind the sets is to give listeners a quick trip through the cities’ richest untapped resources, via music on the one side, through a short video tour on the flipside and a short city guide (complete with map) within.

Fischerspooner’s version takes us to the rawest locales on the New York landscape, weaving together electro with indie with punk into a collage that is as addictive as it is disconcerting. Disconcerting? Well, once one realizes that many of the songs are about abusive relationships, it’s hard to think otherwise, in spite of their catchiness (case-in-point: The Fiery Furnaces’ “Single Again” and Lassigue Bendthaus’ tremendous version of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”).

But the mix is pretty tight and well-designed (part of Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner’s genius is that they start and end the mix the same way, so one can loop it over and over again seamlessly). It plays extremely well from start to finish. Good thing, too, because the duo fused the tracks into one another, just like a dance mix – so it is virtually impossible to tearthenumbersapartfromoneanother. Of course, with the exception of Fischerspooner’s own entry on this disc, one wouldn’t want to anyway: the bits are all equally tasty in their own right.

Sadly, in spite of my usual enthusiasm for Fischerspooner’s material, the ‘Hacker remix’ of their killer single “Emerge” is simply not up to par – it’s bad enough that it does a grave injustice to the original, but it also loses itself amidst all these others. Anyway, it’s a bad habit for an artist to offer one of their own tracks on a compilation that they’ve put together: not only does it smell of ego but it plainly stinks of opportunism – especially on a series like “The Other Side”, which purports to show us a side of the music world that we don’t already know.

And that’s part of the problem here.

Where the video tour is strictly limited to New York locales, the album features artists that are not all from the “Big Apple”. This seems to be a recurring problem in the series, one discovers – unless Bauhaus actually were from Paris (see Black Strobe’s tracklisting online for a good chuckle :).

After being misled into believing that the music contained herein was all native to the area we’re visiting, it’s very difficult to take the concept of this series seriously – despite the rest of the package.

The video tour is fun, but a bit brief and a tad short on directions (let’s just say that a visual aid or two might be useful in such a big city!). Ironically, even the map included inside doesn’t provide us with any help in finding all of the places visited in the video – although it does list dozens of very interesting places to discover. And even if it had, a visual representation would have fleshed out this tour considerably.

But overall, if purchased at a reasonable price, the disc is still a worthy addition to one’s collection and life-experiences. It may not be unforgettable, but it is memorable enough to consider trying out the other two in the set some time in the future…

Who knows…? You just might unearth a hidden gem or two along the way 🙂

We give it a 6.5 out of 10.

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