Beck has been on the average personís radar around since the early 1990s, Coincidently so has the Nintendo GameBoy. Beck has had huge hits like Loser, Where its At and Lost Cause. Gameboy has played host to the unstoppable Pokemon series as well as some hit Mario games. Of course, theyíve both gone through his changes over the past decade. Nowadays Beck is a platinum post-folk independent beathead who plays the blues and the GameBoy is a Japanese flip-top double screen handheld that plays Mario Kart. So, what would you get if you combined these two giants of entertainment? One damn fine remix EP.
The pre-Guero Guero remix record, lovingly known as GameBoy Variations, features Gueroís 4 most well known tracks (E-pro, Que Onda Guero, Girl and Hell Yes) remixed by 8-Bit and the X-Dump. Both are great remixers, but have different styles. For the record Beck takes a unique turn on the remix album and insisted that both remixers keep their remixs extremely electronic and almost video-game like (hence the title). Both take this idea and run with it. Seen the cover art? This simple picture tells a lot more about the sound of the record than one might expect. Hard rock through a GameBoy.
Now, as a young reviewer I try to stay away from the dreaded Track-by-track reviews, but even Shakespeare could not stretch four songs into a worthy overall, so Iím going to break this bad boy down T by T.
The album starts with the curiously titled Ghettochip Malfunction (also featured on post-Guero remix album Guerolito
) The track stays fairly true to the original (Hell Yes) full of bleeps and boops as well as Beckís signature monotone raps. 8-bit accents certain points in the rhyme by doubling the vocals. This makes the vocals pop out and sound a lot better than they did on the original track. Not my favorite remix, though it wasnít my favorite song to begin with. Hell Yes always seemed a tad annoying to me and never strays far from Beckís time tested sound. The remix changes this problems and turns it into a fun poppy electronica tune. This is probably why it was chosen as the albumís single (and was given a fairly terrible video) The ascending synth line in the chorus gives it a extremely good nod though. As do the voice samples that are used in the drums breaks (Yeah thatís it). DIGGABLE
Track 2 is 8-bitís take on Gueroís most original track, Que Onda Guero (now called GamBoy/HomeBoy) unfortunately his mix loses the trackís fun feel and turns into an incredibly awkward downtempo techno song. Ditching the east LA inspired Hispanic voices when they are most useable for 1980s inspired arcade noises and over using the voices during drum breaks. The only part of this song that I can dig is itís drum-heavy lo-fi chorus. Imagine listening to Pavementís Crooked Rain while playing Tetris if you need an idea of this effect. The tempo of the songís verse is a tad slowed making it seem a little awkward. This is a real shame as an electro remix of this song could have turned out interesting or at least danceable. It doesnít. The Guerolito remix (remixed by Island) is much better. SORTA DIGGABLE
Beck always gave us a welcome break from cock rock, crap pop and post-emo junk, so who in the world would give us a break from Beck? Enter X-Dump, as a remixer he keeps most of the song structure and instead, spins it his own way. This makes his remixes a lot more fun to listen too. Bit Rate Variations in B-flat, his Girl remix is pure genius. The track would be as comfortable with people raving to it as it would be with Mario hopping on a few mushrooms to it. It brings all the good dynamics of Girl up front and fuses them with bleeps of all sorts. As with most songs the songís half time drums beat makes for a really catchy tune and Beckís voice paired with nothing but ascending and descending beeps is a match made in heaven. In fact there are no ďrealĒ instruments on this track. Even the drum beat has been played with so much it sounds like merely a computer command. VERY DIGGABLE.
Perhaps the most remixed song Beck has in his catalog is Gueroís first single E-Pro. On GameBoy Variations it gets a techno facelift and a name-change, now itís called Bad Cartridge. The verses are very bass heavy and the chorusís are virtually wordless (but still catchy. The remix finds beck distorted nahs (if youíve heard the song you know what Iím talking about) being replaced with an extremely catchy siren-like synth melody. Sound wise this is the best song on the EP. Itís easy to listen to, fun to dance to and super catchy. The raps seem much peppier than the original and have way more flavor. The beat drops for a few bars after the second ďchorusĒ before the familiar nahs make a triumphant return. Swooshs of sounds, fantastic dance beats and dynamic changes round out a great remix. The three other E-Pro remixes done this past year are all good, but personally Iíd rank this at the top. DIGGABLEST.
Overall the album is a creative take on the standard remix record but, is probably not worth the money it costs to pick it up. If you have Guerolito, donít bother checking out this album. If you have a computer geek cousin maybe give him this as a birthday present and try to show him a good side to music. Maybe next Christmas youíll have something else to talk about besides World of Warcraft. Beck will always have a place in my heart, no matter how robotic he gets, just like my trusty GameBoy will always have a place behind my TV. For times when thereís just nothing better to do than rot away in front of LCD.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5