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We were just giving this Visage remix album a spin when the Bowie Event happened and everything got interrupted as that particular star went nova. Now that the smoke and dust has cleared, where were we six months ago exactly? Oh yes. Just weeks after the release of the compelling “Demons To Diamonds” album, Visage shocked by releasing a remixed version of that album in lieu of any singles since the lead singer’s unexpected death in February of 2015. This is significant because the brace of singles that the band released from their previous album, “Hearts + Knives” were a run of the best remixes/B-sides I’d heard in decades! How many bands had managed a similar feat in the 21st century with six physical singles; each packed with amazing, filler-free mixes and tracks? The remix album sported a new title and a re-colored design that was only slightly different from the original album with more vivid and saturated colors replacing the muted palette of the original “Demons To Diamonds.” The track order here was considerably different from the original listing, and when I played it back, it didn’t seem unduly jarring, so well enough, then. The lush ballad “Aurora” now led off the album instead of the driving “Before You Win.” It was one of a pair of songs here that were substantially extended in the manner of an actual single release, so I was grateful for this project in delivering at least those unmitigated 12” versions! The lush buildup took the song to the 7:00 threshold and the synthesizers were given parity in the mix with the saxophone that slightly dominated the original mix of this track. While “Aurora” was a real extended remix, the next track was actually shorter than the original version of “Loving The Alien.” The overall beat had been streamlined here and that gave Steve Barnacle room to take the bass guitar places that the original didn’t dare to go, resulting an a much funkier “Alien.” That funkiness carried over into the next track as well. “Your Skin Is My Sin” now had a much more cinematic synth intro in addition to the slap bass that gave this number much more swing. The song’s distinctive rhythm guitar was also dialed down in deference to the synths and bass. Two of the original sings appeared here in straight instrumentals. The first of which was “Sax Scene” which subbed for “Clubscene.” It’s still a winsome track but without the vocals to deliver its emotional playload, it is relegated to lightweight status. The other instro cut was “Star City,” which followed “Sax Scene” for two instrumentals in a row. While that seems crazy on the face of it, “Star City” was basically an instrumental to begin with. Only the Russian lady naming famous cosmonauts performing the voice over was scrubbed from this track. The Soviet Men’s Choral Society still remain on the track, so it really allows the melody to stand front and center without any of the distracting voice over from the original. This worked much batter than “Sax Scene.” Then after two instrumentals, it was time to deliver another hit payload. While “Become” was a stunning track in its original version, the extended remix here really took the already strong track over the top. the 5:52 cut was now every inch an extended 12” remix that now sported an amazing new middle eight and a fantastic textured buildup. The drums could have been ripped out of the brilliant “Angel Eyes” 12” remix by Roxy Music and Robin Simon’s guitar has been emphasized for the swing and swagger it brings to the table. The sequencers that carry the outro here are wonderful and I love how the instruments drop out in the reverse order that they came to the buildup in for some sweet symmetry. One listen to “Days Become Dark [elimination version]” and it was immediately apparent why they chose that name since the song’s new beat was ripped, screaming from ZZ Top’s “Gimme All Your Lovin’!” You’ll hear it and wait for Billy Gibbons’s guitar to blaze through the track but thankfully for us, it’s Robin Simon front and center [though he pulls off a very Top neck slide in there]. Overall, the guitar has been mixed to the front of this track, but sounding like a track from the fiapart from the drum track, this was close to the original. 1l The original album closer, “Never,” received a major facelift here. It had a much faster tempo for a start and the song now had an extended synth intro that took the tune into full on synthpop land after originallyrst China Crisis album [though there’s nothing wrong with that]. In that score, the song’s original fretless bass was replaced with synth bass on this version. - postpunkmonk

Visage | Darkness to Diamond | CD

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