There are few pleasures like hearing the song removed from a song. After Pete Swanson has finished with Ashley Paul‘s “Soak the Ocean,” what is left is like the skin of a snake after the snake has gone on to shadier pastures. The original song is a mix of gestural near-microsonic composition and lightly layered vocals, more intoned than sung. It is a pleasure on its own, Paul’s tremulous voice moving amid the fragile plectrum geometries of the accompaniment. True to the snakeless-skin image, Swanson has largely excised the vocal — the inhabitant has moved on — and left the instrumental bed, which he has in turn made more motoric. There are hints of her voice, a syllable allowed to repeat here and there, a phrase even less robust than the ethereal original, more a vestige, a memory, of the song than a new rendering of it. The beat gains momentum as the track proceeds, memories left behind, as it moves forward into a deeper, richer, harsher, welcoming noise.
For comparison, this is the original version, from the Paul album Line The Clouds, which came out on REL Records in late March:
Swanson was half of Yellow Swans (the other half having been Gabriel Mindel Saloman), whose Going Places was one of my favorite commercial albums of 2010. The magazine xlr8r.com covered the remix back in February. More from Ashley Paul at ashleypaul.net. More from Pete Swanson at twitter.com/pete_swans.