Come on in; the water’s fine. A chain of remixers cross oceans as they remix “Oceandrift,” by Kelp. Photo (CC-BY-SA) Derek Keats.

The opening track is aptly-named, a diving bell launched into aquatic depths of ambient sound. But on this release, it’s just the beginning of the journey. From Kelp’s track “Oceandrift,” a set of remixers chart very different musical worlds. They connect across geography via the NinjaTune forum. It’s the latest proof that electronic production need not sound like cut-and-paste templates and presets – and the most recent example of the phenomenon known as the remix chain.

What’s a remix chain? Well, the notion is to take a snippet of music – in this case, 64 measures – and pass it around, just like in the childhood game of “Telephone.” It’s one way of involving more people in a remix, as well as challenging participants’ production chops. Kelpe explains the concept for the hosts of this particular remix project, 64barmusic.

A remix chain is the process of a second artist remixing a track delivered to them by the first artist, and then passing the stems of the remixed track onto a third artist, and so on. Eventually, the penultimate person passes their remixed stems back around to the original artist, who remixes all the remixes in one track to complete the chain. The results are astounding, considering each part of the chain only hears the previous track,”

That’s apparently “Kelp,” the NinjaTune forum member, not Kelpe aka Kel McKeown, the UK artist, though I can now say I’m a fan of both. The complete remix album release is available on Bandcamp as a name-your-own-price download:

Read up on the project from its organizers:
Oceandrift – out now [64barmusic blog]

What’s especially striking is the way this allowed musicians who otherwise would be isolated to work together, and the richness of sonic diversity that results. The only common thread is simply the active forum for iconic UK label Ninja Tune:
http://www.ninjatune.co.uk/forum/

Nor have these efforts gone unnoticed by the folks at Ninja. A previous outing landed in the Ninja Tune shop at the beginning of the year:
Boom – Boundaries now live on Ninja Shop

CDM reader Jason, aka Bassling, sends in some of his thoughts as posted to his blog, and reflects, “It really amazes me that someone stuck in a small town in Australia like me can get involved in projects with a bunch of like-minded people on the other side of the world.”

Oceandrift on Bassling Blog

(For the record, Bassling’s remix is definitely one of my favorites – and I heard it before I paid attention to the artist credit, so I can’t chalk that up to bias. Quite fond of Dan Shoebridge, as well.)

It’s all well worth hearing, well worth examining as a model for collaboration. Seen remix ideas you like? And, while this sort of pass-the-file-along remix doesn’t quite amount to physical presence for working together, what do you think of electronic media for collaborating?

  • Nez

    Good review!

    And FYI the forum has produced several other collaborative projects, such as this one: http://youtu.be/MWlqqgci04U

    • techdef

      Yeah that cut and run project was sort of a direct precursor to the remix chain… it had a similar concept, but in miniature form, with only a couple of bars per artist making just one track total in the end. It whetted producers appetites to do the more elaborate chain. Another chain is now in the works–just starting! Takes a while to complete, but worth the wait.