Amp - Q Factors (A Mixtape) - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Amp - Q Factors (A Mixtape)

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:6 Release Date:2017-11-24
Amp - Q Factors (A Mixtape)
Amp - Q Factors (A Mixtape)

Amp is an English band centered on core members Richard Walker and Karine Charff that has been putting out music for a couple decades. With Q Factors, they've released a frankly bizarre set of remixes. Aptly subtitled (A Mixtape), it's full of jarring transitions between tracks that emphasize the album's seventeen-year construction time, which spans many albums. The utter grab bag of artists who created mixes adds to the motley composition.

Right off the bat it's clear this isn't easy listening, with 'Drowning Mind (feedback overload)', mixed by former collaborator, Marc Challans, who makes it wail and scream like a banshee. The song is claustrophobic as hell; it feels like being trapped in a dark room and pounding against the walls desperately trying to escape, with Charff moaning and gasping her way along as beats crash and guitar squeals. It's a difficult song, but not without its redemptive qualities. It's followed up with the ultra-mellow space-jazziness of 'Hownow (can we be)', also mixed by Challans (along with Amp Studio, presumably Walker) with sexy horns and creamy keys contrasting with the pop-popping drums.

'Lost Love Cries (flyby)', remixed by Blaubac, is a refreshing piece of downtempo drum n bass. A solid, understated bit of punchy percussion forms the foundation the song, with great flourishes throughout. And Charff's singing combines with the music to make this sound a lot like Lamb. 'D'espoir de Mourir (charme étrange)', remixed by another former Amp member, Olivier Gauthier, gets delightfully dirty, a grungy trip hop track in the spirit of Massive Attack.

'When & Where (electric spike)', mixed by Yellow6, is one of the most striking tunes in the set, with a slow, echoey intro that builds into a hypnotic maze of Charff humming and whispering through a dark morass of back alleys and dim street lights.

Some tracks just don't work though. 'Loveflower (into the sun)' and 'Just Get It (why don't you)' a a pair of interminable chunks of post-rock haziness that get stuck in a rut and never break out, and 'Waiting Room Blues (walking away)' is an off-kilter piece of twisted folk rock with a miasma of psychedelic effects more nauseating than trippy. But despite all the wacky experimentation, these are the exception rather than the rule.

This really is a mix tape, with at least one track ('D'espoir de Mourir') actually mastered off an old cassette tape, so there's nothing like an overarching idea or theme to tie everything together beyond a vague notion of a retrospective. With so many incarnations of the band and so many different remixers, each song must be taken on its own, without any context. About half the tracks stand on their own just fine, while the remainder are either only so-so or less. This is probably not a great place to start for anyone who's not familiar with the band, but long time fans may enjoy the reinterpretations to be found here.

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