Ether Force, Unit Seven - Cou Remixes/Remixed
Drawn Inwards (VICELORDS remix)
This Love Will Last 4 Ever (Boutros Boutros Boutros remix)
Darklow (Ost remix)
Bonus Track (Koppen's computer bonus-level)
Doppelgänger (Captain Credible becomes you mix)
Simulacra (André Borgen remix)
The Seed (Mogens Operandi remix)
Ah! You're Safer With Me Here (Orangebox remake)
Sim Simulacrum (Tr-Ond and the Suburban Savages remake)
Serafina Steer: Motion Pictures (C.O.U. Remix)
C.O.U. feat. Dag Stiberg: Wannabe Soul (Central Heating) (Brugata Blogstyle Crew)
Salvatore: E is for Egyptian field reversal (C.O.U. remix)
Doppelgänger: C.O.U. meta-remix
André Borgen vs. C.O.U.: Next Universe
Bellydance Nation - Center of the Universe (2005)
An occasionally unique, occasionally too-familiar, but altogether otherwordly experience.
"And when I don't know how I got there I just make up a memory."
For an outfit that can boast of creating a concept trilogy of albums on "space and time", it's no mean feat that this diverse five-piece then rose again just two months after completing the trilogy, for involvement on this impressive two-way remix album.
The albums in the trilogy, Anachronisma (2006, about misplacement in time), Simulacra (2008, about misplacement in space), and Apocrypha (May 2009, about origin), take their influences predominantly from world music, with sounds as far-flung Balkan beats and "Jollywood Calypso" (their own words...). Their ability to fuse their philosophy with their music, for the most part, comes across as fun as opposed to pretentious, like an simultaneous invitation for a D&M and a taste of local moonshine.
Not only are Center of the Universe dabbling in near-academic conceptualising of their music, but now with Ether Force Unit Seven, they're also getting tricky with remixing both ways on the one album (both ways meaning that they're remixing other artists as well as getting the remix treatment on their own music.)
The result is an occasionally unique, occasionally too-familiar, but altogether otherwordly experience: a dash of Talvin Singh, a smidgen of Beirut and a smattering of nostalgic Asian Dub Foundation. It's not hard to imagine that these guys jammed out the album as they backpacked through the Atlas Mountains.
"I guess I'm drawn to the inside, I guess I'm drawn to the wrong side. And the night was as light as the day."
There's a decidedly poetic bent to many of the tracks on this one. In fact, the tracks with the most poetic content seem also the "truest" to what Center of the Universe is about. The opening track sets scenes of violet star-studded skies sheltering the undulating paleness of desert sands below. There's the sound of palm-fringed lazy rivers in the music, silently carving their way through those desert sands at night. Dubsteppers Vicelords have worked a treat on this one, making the vocal line even catchier and emphasising an irresistable transcontinental clash of world music instrumentation and Norwegian accent.
Track two is the most Talvin Singh on the album and keeps the ears in the same region and along the same exotic journey as the first, albeit with some saccharine Bollywood moments. From here, the journey gets more urbanised and grittier: more predictable for some dance moves. There's a bit too much repetition across the next few tracks, but after a few listens, the mesmerising factor forgives this. The Koppens Pasukon bonus track is almost reminiscent of some of Diplo's handiwork, which gives some welcome musical depth, in contrast with the flat and highly dateable sounds of the Doppelganger Captain Credible remix.
Andre Borgen's work is a true highlight, creating pre-dawn mysticism, like sunlight just hitting the rooftops and towers of Tangiers. The lush and lyrically accomplished You're Safer With Me Here, however, reminds us that this album does in fact originate from Norway, with some familiar-sounding, yet still lovely Scandi-pop vocal lines. The Object Is Lost keeps the ears in higher climbs, sounding like snow-covered landscapes, slightly reminiscent of the likes of Mitchell Akiyama (on Dutch label Eat The Records).
By the final few tracks, we're nicely lulled, satiated by our global journey and happy to be lullabyed... the second Doppelganger remix has a bit of a kick to it (again, with some beats that are sure to date), and is very listenable but we'd be better off listening to the "real thing" from 70's compilation albums such as Love Peace and Poetry for those with a penchant for Asian psychadelia.
The final track, Next Universe, however, is another wonder from Andre Borgen: lilting, hypnotic, and again, poetic with a refreshingly non-pretentious sound. It's a fine choice for the end track. With lines such as "forget about the places 'round here, forget about the world that you know and tell me if you really want to go, to the next universe", this is the track sums up the album. It's the one that will stay on repeat until you're finally inspired enough to get yourself off to an exotic mountain range, and run along with the desert wind.
Or, failing that, start all over again from track one and keep dreaming.