Friday, August 15, 2014

Woob, "Lost 1194"

Bob Dylan's "Bootleg Series" albums have been huge hits with fans because they allow them to take a peek behind the curtain, offering insight into creative process of an artist who has always been somewhat shadowy about what he does and how he manages to do it.  We can hear how tracks developed through demos and live versions.  We've heard acoustic tracks go electric, electric tracks take on new life during live revues, and the unearthing of songs from his ignored or underappreciated periods.  The series is still going strong after twenty years.

If only we could open the recording vaults for electronic musicians too (no, the "bootleg series" equivalents for them are not remixes).  I'm not comparing Woob's catelog to Dylan's much more extensive one, but for  whatever reason, he seems to be at the forefront of prominent 90's electronic artists revisiting/reworking their material ten or twenty years after the originals.

Much like "Repurpose",  his earlier trip into the vaults, "Lost 1194" does pack many surprises or relevations.  Overall it's a bit heavier on beats and percussion -- the long intros to "On Earth" are scaled back and the dubbier portions extended on "Lost On Earth", and the final portion of "Lost Odonna" adds a drum part that was missing in the original.  Many of the samples are different, which doesn't affect the final product much, with the exception of the bone chilling screams that shifted "Strange Air" into a nerve-wracking deep freeze that are missing in "Lost Strange Air".  Only "Lost Emperor" serves up a different mood than its corresponding original.  Rather than the swampy hell of the bass heavy original, "Lost Emperor" seems tranquil, taking its cues from Eno's early ambient work rather than dub.

The key thing I've learned, having now heard both "Repurpose" and "Lost 1194",  is that "Woob 1194" may be the biggest fluke in electronic music history.  The alternate takes and everything Frankland has done since then (e..g as Journeyman) can't come close to what he captured live, with no editing, when he recorded "Woob 1194".  It gives me a greater appreciation of how difficult it is to come up with quality live improvisations and mixes night in and night out, and how important it is to know your music inside and out, let your instincts guide what you're doing, and record almost everything you do.  The stuff that spills out of you, seemingly without trying, may be impossible to duplicate no matter how hard you try.  

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