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Reviews Written by
M. B. Wilson "crushtrash" (Bristol)
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Darkness To Diamond
Darkness To Diamond
Price: £9.99

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Alternative versions to "Demons to Diamonds", but only a few tracks left me feeling that the revisit was worth it!, 23 Jan. 2016
This review is from: Darkness To Diamond (Audio CD)
Within 2 months of the "Demons to Diamonds" posthumous release, which was itself a mixed bag of some really strong tracks and some that only sounded half-finished, the band have released a 'sister' album featuring a few extended versions and some alternative takes, covering the complete original track-listing. Their thinking was to release an album instead of a number of singles, which makes some sense bearing in mind August Day are not really a 'singles' label anyway, and allowed them to focus on the entire production themselves.

For me the problem with this is that the band's own extended mixes of every single from "Hearts and Knives" hit the mark in every way, with lots of thought going into new intro/outro, breaks and extra arrangements, whilst always keeping true to the original album track. Most singles also included an instrumental version, which was a really nice touch. However this 'remix' album falls short of expectation on many tracks, and whilst the inclusion of a James Grant co-write, produced/mixed by Visage, with James and Lauren ably providing all the vocals, is quite interesting, the project feels a little cobbled together at times. I am a huge Visage fan, whichever the line-up/era, and have several formats of the last 2 albums, as well as the older Ure/Currie/Egan classics (even Beat Boy!), so it does pain me to say this album is a bit of a disappointment.

If you loved Demons then still consider buying it, but just don't expect it to replace any would-be singles - possibly with 2 exceptions. Some tracks feature more keyboards, or they are higher in the mix, whilst some sound far too similar to the originals (arrangement and length).

For me the real highlights are "Become" and "Before You Win" remixes, as these really feel like proper extended versions, and for me improve greatly on the originals, particularly "Become" (but still no writing credits!). "Aurora" extended intro also adds nicely to the track, which whilst not a favourite of mine does work well as an opener now, and whilst Steve's vocals are still very dry the alternative 'rockier' version of Bowie's "Loving the Alien" is an interesting re-take, removing the slightly odd keyboard stabs in their first version.

Although a tad lazy its also quite nice to hear "Star City" backing track in its own right.

However, "Your Skin" fizzles out totally after a promising new intro, "Never" has lost most of its simplistic charm (and Steve's bass) in a totally different arrangement and "Sax Scene" is simply a wasted opportunity. Placing both instrumentals together in the middle of the album also seems an odd decision, and of the two "Star City" definitely wins out! "Seven Deadly Sins" sounds a lot less like "On We Go" now, due mainly to percussive changes, but as a result has also lost a lot of its impact.

And then there's "Days Become Dark", which was my favourite original - the enhanced (ie overly-dominant) drum track completely ruins this song for me. This was classic rocky Visage, but this unnecessary revisit spoils it completely, and other than the drums the changes to the rest of the mix are minimal.

Unfortunately the album feels a bit cobbled together as there is no real consistency to how the versions have been approached. When it works the new versions are really, really, good, but several tracks almost feel like rejected, or early demo, takes, with Steve's final vocals mixed on top.

If they had released this as an EP, including a 12" vinyl version, of say 4 or 5 extended/remixed tracks, then it could've been a real classic: "Become", "Before You Win" and "Aurora" (all as per this album) plus maybe proper extended remixes of "ClubScene" and "Days Become Dark"? As it is after several listens in full there are only 3 or 4 tracks I can say continue to hit the mark in any way. Sorry guys!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 23, 2016 11:00 AM GMT


Comes Undone
Comes Undone
Price: £0.79

3.0 out of 5 stars Days Become Dark in its earliest form, 18 Dec. 2015
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This review is from: Comes Undone (MP3 Download)
The vocals knock off a star I'm afraid, as they let the instrumentation, and lyrics, down quite badly. Putting that aside this is a very early version of the song Visage have recorded for Demons To Diamonds, called Days Become Dark (F Gamaury wrote this original, before new arrangements and extra lyrics were added by Visage members). This is the a-side, yet the b-side My Sin is much stronger, both vocally and recording-wise.

If you're a Visage completest then its still worth a punt!


My Sin
My Sin
Price: £0.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Compare and Contrast with Bottin, and Visage, revamps!, 18 Dec. 2015
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This review is from: My Sin (MP3 Download)
Only bought this when realised it was the original source song for Visage track "Your Skin Is My Sin" (also recorded by Bottin and Steve Strange as "Poison Within"!). F Gamaury is the original songwriter, and its interesting to hear the first version. The arrangement is very electronic pop, not the more funky version from Visage or the pure electro of Bottin.

Whilst I really like the instrumentation the vocals are quite weak (but better than the a-side), which is a shame. However its interesting curio to hear where the track started!


In The Dark (feat. Steve Strange) [Night Version]
In The Dark (feat. Steve Strange) [Night Version]
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Very strong mix of a very dark track - Visage meets extreme film noir with a techno soundtrack!, 18 Dec. 2015
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There are several mixes/remixes of this out there, and this is off an EP of tracks from their album, all with guest vocalists. As such these mixes are still by the band, but differ from the original versions enough to make them sound fresh. The Remix EP takes things much further, but I prefer this mix by far.

Steve croons and whispers, as well as his distinctive singing style, so it often sounds quite sinister! Bearing in mind the lyrics I'm sure that was the plan, and with its subtle Visage-esque intro vibe things suddenly turn euro-house and uptempo for the bulk of the track, with some very sudden and dramatic stop/starts. Quite challenging, but I really like this mix, and its good to hear Mr Strange (RIP) on collaborations as strong as this.


Tutti Frutti (Richy Ahmed Remix)
Tutti Frutti (Richy Ahmed Remix)
Price: £0.69

2.0 out of 5 stars Faily weak mix off the remix set.....repetitive...., 18 Dec. 2015
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Whilst the sparse electronic beats and key stabs are reminiscent of some Technique era mixes, overall this just takes too long to get out of a very repetitive intro groove (which essentially deconstructs in reverse as outro). Then we get looped vocal segments quite low in the mix, and eventually longer sections of the vocal, but by then I'm afraid I'd all but lost interest! Some nice programming, but just too little of the strengths offered by the original are left.


Tutti Frutti (Tom Trago's Crazy Days Remix)
Tutti Frutti (Tom Trago's Crazy Days Remix)
Price: £0.69

3.0 out of 5 stars A bit clompy, and overlong - has its moments but there are better mixes out there!, 18 Dec. 2015
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This isn't the worst remix on the CD/download single, but whilst it retains a lot of the song it suffers from very clompy drums that gradually develop and then dominate the whole, rather long, mix. It has grown on me after several listens and I'm sure would work well in a DJ set, albeit probably edited! Check out the Hot Chip and Extended Mix 2 for the class acts!


Tutti Frutti (12"Extended Mix 2)
Tutti Frutti (12"Extended Mix 2)
Price: £0.69

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best remixes of this song, definitely THE mix fro purists!, 18 Dec. 2015
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Great 'band' extended version of this song (track 4 on the album). Retains the spoken intro and then develops the percussion nicely. More clubby than the original, its easily one of the strongest remixes out there and should please all fans of Music Complete.


Roll the Dice (The Time and Space Machine Remix)
Roll the Dice (The Time and Space Machine Remix)
Price: £0.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Very dubby version/mix - loses a lot of the power of the original song., 18 Dec. 2015
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Whilst the backing track is very well produced, there are only vocal snippets throughout the mix. It retains a lot of the original atmosphere though, whilst taking what was quite an indie-rock track into more dub territory. Not as strong as it could've been, but still worth a listen.


Something New (06R Remix)
Something New (06R Remix)
Price: £0.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Strong long revamp of John's album version, with extra beats and some nice twists., 18 Dec. 2015
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This mix sounds quite a lot like his album version, but much longer and with added perky percussion intro etc. The strings are still very strong in the mix, and the song itself remains pretty much in tact. Good song (later the source material for Visage's "Before You Win") from an artist with an interestingly varied history - from house to electronica to indie in the matter of a few albums (under different guises)!


Elevation (Club Clique Remix)
Elevation (Club Clique Remix)
Price: £0.69

5.0 out of 5 stars Good vocal remix., 18 Dec. 2015
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Completely different in feel to the equally excellent BT mix, this has the vocal very high in the mix and is surprisingly un-clubby for an MHC remix - yet it has all their trademarks. Only odd thing is the ending, which fades on a vocal repeat (is this just an edit?). Anyway, its great!!


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