Mouse on Mars: Turn the Dark Up [twift]

This song is perhaps the greatest mystery in the entirety of my music collection. It’s a fairly sophisticated remix of the song Twift Shoeblade from Mouse on Mars’ third album Autoditacker (1997).

The tempo is a little faster, the arrangement has a little more punch and it has been resequenced slightly. Not to snub the original at all, but I must say I pretty much prefer the remixed version.

The strange thing is, in the seven years I’ve had it in my collection, I’ve never been able to track down any information about it. If I could remember where I got it, that might help, but honestly, I have no idea where I it came from. The song is old enough that it could be from the original Napster, but either way, that wouldn’t help.

Surprisingly, because tagging wasn’t a common practice at the time, the file came with some decent ID3 information:

Name: Turn the Dark Up
Artist: Mouse on Mars
Album: mixed by the big chopper
Year: 2000

Still, even armed with this information, I’ve been able to track down nary a clue about its origin. Google is completely useless, turning up seven results for the phrase “turn the dark up,” most of which are about theater.

Searches for “The Big Chopper” and “Mixed by the Big Chopper” don’t reveal much either, mostly with regards to motorcycles. I’ve found one music-related reference at musician and noted producer Don Flemings’ Instant Mayhem, but Surfin Halloween doesn’t sound anything close to what I’m looking for.

The iTunes Store has a rapper by the name of Big Chopper, but I don’t think that’s it either.

So, whoever you are, Mr. Remixer, I salute you. I guess this is one riddle that will have to remain unsolved.

And to all you readers, here’s a treat: Turn the Dark Up, mixed by The Big Chopper. Enjoy.

Turn the Dark Up

OK Computer: 10 Years Young

A number of people pointed out to me recently that Radiohead’s seminal masterpiece, OK Computer, turned ten years old a couple weeks ago. That’s right, it’s been a full decade since the band began to cement its reputation as “world’s greatest rock band.”

Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday, my friend Dan was imploring me to give Radiohead a shot. At this point in the band’s career, I had been less than impressed with their offerings. Don’t worry though, I came around.

Anyway, if I recall my history correctly, the record label received it coolly and feared that its immense sound and intellectual themes would scare away buyers. Fortunately for the band, people are smarter than record labels give them credit for. The rest, they say, “is history.”

To celebrate OK Computer’s decennial, Hypeful has compiled every song on the album, each covered by a different artist, as downloadable mp3s. I’m not sure which is the most intriguing, Shawn Lee’s quasi-soul adult contemporary rendition of No Surprises or the String Quartet version of Electioneering or The Illuminati’s glitched and distorted interpretation of Subterranean Homesick Alien. For my money, I think it’s Silent Gray’s inexplicable rock recording of Fitter Happier.

Of course, none of them improve on the original, but after ten years, the new perspectives are refreshing. But if imitation and inspiration are the sincerest forms of flattery, then the existence of these covers goes to show the extent of OK Computer’s legacy.


Update July 10: Not to be outdone, stereogum has compiled its own unique list of track-by-track OK Computer covers. This further demonstrated the impact of the record. It’s astonishing that it would be that easy to pull together, from existing sources, TWO complete cover records featuring 24 different artists, with no overlap.


Radiohead, Paranoid Android live on Later with Jools Holland, May 31, 1997 (two weeks before the record’s release). The band rocks oh so much:

Radiohead – Paranoid Android (on Jools Holland, 1997)

Stereolab: French Disco

From the single Jenny Ondioline (1993). Also appears on the Oscillons from the Anti-Sun box set (2005).

french disco at amazon french disco

For nearly a decade now, Stereolab has been a consistent “A list” band in my library, but I’ve, more of than not, been more disposed toward the groop’s laid-back, lounge-infused work. The band’s early, fuzz-laden krautrock-inspired recordings generally don’t strike me as much (though I do enjoy krautrock as a rule). While mid-career songs like Spacemoth, The Free Design and Miss Modular are compellingly splendid, crisp, head-bobbing grooves, the lo-fi droning simplicity of earlier songs like Anapromorph and Enivrez-Vous tend to grate at my ears.

As a result, I’ve tended to spend less time exploring the early stages of the groop’s development. However, this song, French Disco, and in particular, this version, is a hard diamond in the spacey milieu of the band’s early works. It breaks two of the band’s early conventions, and that makes it especially appealing. First, it’s uptempo and bombastic and completely unlike anything the band recorded in that era. Second, it rocks! And Stereolab doesn’t do rock; it’s not their thing. But if they wanted to, they’d obviously be good at it.

It’s too bad this version was stuffed as a b-side onto a single of which there were only a few thousand copies pressed. Overall, it’s a highly regarded song in the catalog and I’m sure many fans would have loved to have heard it before the 2005 box set was released.

I must admit some confusion over the song though. Variants of it appear with Disco spelled with a ‘K’ (French Disko). That version looks like it’s the ‘main version’ and it appeared as its own 7″ single i thinkÔÇôstereolab’s catalog can get pretty confusing as well as on the Refried Ectoplasm comp and runs about 3:35. This recording is about 4:26 and sounds like a different studio recording with extended outro.

Both recordings are good, but I prefer this one.

What I Love: Laetitia Sadier’s voice, the tempo, the haunted house intro organ and the explosive (but oh-so-brief) chorus.