There’s an ongoing debate in the film world about where the movie we see in the theater really comes from. Is it the writer’s script? Is it the director’s vision? Is it the editor’s cut? Which of those is the true movie? The answer usually depends on who you’re talking to and where they fall in the cinematic food chain, but I think the true answer is the final film is a mixture of all those elements. The same holds true for music. Does the original songwriter hold the only glory for what becomes of their creation or do the people who get a hold of it after, twist it, adapt it, and remix it get their due for the artistry they perform? We used to look at DJs, producers, and remixers as second-hand musicians, but I have felt that tide turning in the last decade and right now this artist is at the front of the charge.
RAC began as not one person, but a group, standing for Remix Artists Collective. It formed in early 2007 with the originating and most prolific member, André Allen Anjos, who stems from the musical landscape of Portugal and has been working his magic for years. Past members included Andrew Maury, Karl Kling, Aaron Jasinski, and Chris Angelovski. Now RAC is Andre alone, one voice with a mission to make music you can't deem anything else but addictive.
The collective put out tracks underground and on the indie circuit for quite a while, building up a reputation and a following. Now RAC is releasing his debut album, Strangers, on Cherrytree Records. The album will come out in two parts. The first one comes out March 4, while the next part will be released on April 1 (no joke).
Included on the first seven-track EP is their current smash, “Let Go,” featuring Kele from Bloc Party and MNDR. It’s a catchy, synth-pop tribute to the trials and tribulations of watching people in our lives get caught in that downward spiral. Haunting yet hopeful, it pulls the layers back to see what is underneath someone’s personal chaos. It opens the EP and immediately introduces the listener to a insanely catchy bass line, a recurring theme throughout.
Other tracks, like “Ello Ello” and “Hard to Hold”, echo back to ’80s polka-dot pop—toe-tapping, finger-snapping, head-bopping addiction that you can’t help but be swept up in. The sweet, sugar-toned vocals and isolated synth riffs make these tracks slither under any defenses you have. You will be humming these long after they’re done.
“Hollywood” was actually the first track dropped from here and shows off a darker, edgier tone, closer to Arctic Monkeys or Rock Kills Kid. It’s a soft song laced with hard facts, like a kiss from sharpened lips. Swinging to the other extreme, “Tear You Down” is an islanders’ mantra, just begging for an acoustic version to be played around a raging beach fire. It also boasts the most unique vocals on the album.
“Tourist” introduces an echo-tinged guitar riff and feels slightly influenced by Our House by Madness. It touches on being banned from feeling at home in your relationships, leaving you now only a tourist in your own life, just passing through. Heavy stuff for a remix, but they make it work incredibly well. This track ends rather abruptly, but I felt that way only because I wanted more of it.
The only track that sticks out in an odd fashion is “Cells”, which opens like a sci-fi opera, bringing to mind visions of a star man descending into a disco ball illuminated fog. Yet just when it starts to feel like it’s building to something, it’s done. A 1:25-minute emotional moment trapped in a synthesizer, it isn’t a full song by radio terms.
As a debut release, RAC’s Strangers (Part 1) is absolutely addicting and will certainly fulfill the wishes of those already attached to those previously-released tracks. Exploding from the minds of multiple musical masters, RAC will likely continue to sonically innovate for a long time to come.
[Post originally appeared as Music Review: RAC - 'Strangers (Part 1) @ Blogcritics, stay tuned for more music reviews]