Weird and wonderful remixes from Japanese master
What started as a live thing at all their Japanese shows, the whole Shingo remix idea has taken on a life of its own. From track one, it's clear that the 'Shingo Japanese Remix Album' is not going to be your usual Vandals fare - in fact, it's not even what you'd class as normal, standard stuff. This is definitely one record that falls into the category of 'bizarre', and the remixes sound absolutely nothing like the originals. That's not to say that there aren't some gems in and amongst the plain strangeness, because there most definitely are.
'How They Getcha' sounds like the Beastie Boys if Mad Capsule Markets had got their hands on it - it's hip hop but not as we know it. It's sparse and all over the place with little bleeps throughout and chilled out beats but it's remarkable how well the vocals fit in, it's almost as if they were made for it. It takes some getting used to, and the same could be said of '188.8.131.52.0.-1' . It starts off with the same laid back beats, lulling you into a false sense of security - before you know it, this crazy drum n bass beat marches in, it wouldn't be out of place on an a Super Mario Bros game. Add the fifties trumpet riff and that's only half the story; it's something only the Japanese could pull off. Having said that, there's only so much you can listen to it without it being irritating.
'Be A Good Robot' prefers to return to the Beasties vs. Mad Capsule Markets way of doing things. Like most other songs on the album it's funky but nutty, full of off kilter rhythms and mixed up vocals. The more you listen to it, the better it gets. The funkiness continues on 'Disproportionate Head', but chucks a jazzy vibe in there just for good measure. Like 'How they Getcha', the vocals and tune go together surprisingly well considering the original - Shingo is clearly a master at this.
One of the best tracks on the album comes on seven, 'When I Say You, I Mean Me'. It's a lot darker than before, and revels in that feeling. It sounds like jazz as interpreted by Ian Brown, which seems bizarre but really isn't. There's a superb, lazy sax riff complimenting a bouncier piano harmony. But it's only on 'The Last Tears of the Albacore' that the wackiness of the lyrics can truly be heard. It kicks off sounding something not unlike Groove Armada's 'Superstylin' but more off the wall. It's so hard not to like this, particularly with its sassy vibe.
'My Neck, My Back', however, is just totally irritating. It could feature on a Super Mario Bros game quite easily, sounding like rockabilly on speed. Again, this remix has got all the hallmarks of being Japanese and it's such a shame that this isn't as good as most of the rest of the album. The strangest track on the album, though, is the hidden track after 'Lord of the Dance' which ends up being a random bunch of remixes including drum n bass remixes of 'Summer Lovin' and 'Kokomo'. Fans of the weird and wonderful will love it.
All in all, it takes a few listens to get used to especially if you're a big fan of the original Vandals stuff, but it's well worth the effort. It sounds like nothing else around right now, and would be a big treat for anybody.