Neneh Cherry & The Thing’s ‘The Cherry Thing’ has been one of my surprise hits of 2012; an unlikely combination of seasoned free Scandi-jazzers and pop legend Cherry, jamming out free and loose interpretations of everyone from Suicide to the Stooges to Ornette Coleman to MF Doom. Against the odds it was a dazzling display of musical competence where silky, syrupy soul rubbed effortlessly against energetic free jazzing from Gustafsson and co, and I’m pretty stoked to see this all-star remix collection here in the office.
Norwegian Kim Hiorthoy, probably best known for his graphic design, is up to bat first with a crisp, clicky, spacious techno-hop bounce over Cherry’s sweet vocal to Coleman’s ‘What Reason Could I Give’, which is followed straight away by what for me must be the album’s centrepiece - Four Tet’s stunning interpretation of their cover of Suicide’s ‘Dream Baby Dream’, bringing programmed beats back into the equation with some of his distinctive clicky flourishes and the occasional subtle glitch towards the end as Cherry sweetly opines the song’s central mantra until it all breaks down at the end for a blast of Mats madness and layered hollers from Neneh over a dark, crunchy beat. It’s a flawless cut and if you (like me) missed the boat on the recent 12” press of it here’s your chance to finally have it spinning in your house.
After that Peter Bjorn & John side-project Hortlax Cobra chuck some tinny electro beats and weird lo-fi drum sounds over Cherry’s vocal take of MF Doom’s ‘Accordion’, cut back from the free interpretation of the album into a tight rhythmic structure which bursts into playful bassy electro-synth fun halfway through with more than a nod to dubstep, I can see people going nuts for this on the dancefloor. Next up Merzbow’s mixing smooth Mats original ‘Sudden Moment’ and thankfully doing quite a tasteful job of it...I thought his noisy tendencies might take over but there’s just a lot more free weirdness added in the background with percussive clatters and scrapes aplenty, adding some clout to the skronkier bits and puttering mystically around the edges for the more restrained parts. It does get pretty screechy towards the end though, descending into a maze of dense, blown out textures and sax honking.
Well it’s so far so good as I head on to side B but my time here is limited so I’m going to have to leave some of these to your imagination, but right now Jim O’Rourke is stripping Doom’s ‘Accordion’ back to a sinister plod of synth drones and double bass over Cherry’s vocal take, which gradually descends into chaos, and before the LP ends I could also tell you about efforts from Lindstrom & Prins Thomas, Nymph and Carmen Villain, but I guess you’ll have to find out about those ones for yourselves. I reckon I’ll be getting one of these for myself though, it’s a marvellous accompaniment to one of the year’s best albums. Bastion of good taste Li’l Biz says it’s “good tunes”, Kim has asked to borrow my copy of the original album, and even Phil, a seasoned Gustafsso-phobe, has happily sat through the entire thing.