Into the Multiverse: The Subsequel Mixes – Ultra_eko (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

If the previous album, Alternate Realities, from which much of the core material for this follow-up is drawn, was an exercise in musical cross-pollination and genre-hoping, Into The Multiverse is doubly so. It takes the already eclectic nature of the original music and then re-imagines the songs through the prism of re-mixing. A process which, in itself, begs one very important question. Is a song ever really finished?

People seem to put too much store in the idea of a definitive version of a song and use that as the benchmark to judge any subsequent cover or reworking. But surely even the most iconic and well-known recordings are just a snapshot, a record of what happened in the studio on that particular day or week. Any song worth its salt should be able to stand up to re-interpretation and any music fan should be broad-minded enough to welcome such a process. So if Alternate Realities was itself putting two fingers up to the idea of genres and sonic demarcations then Into The Multiverse does the same to the idea of a song ever finding its final form. The process of re-interpretation of the tracks is left to Sebsequel, another shadowy figure closely associated with the infamous” Croydon Space Exploration” program.

After the now-familiar opening salvo of Second Chapter, a rapped and rapturous, potted history, mission statement and philosophical rant, we dive in. Day Tripper has evolved from an indie vibe to a more dance sound, the edges softened and the beats more trippy and clubland inspired. Cash Money Moolah wanders a similar path from the Arthur Daley meets Chic blend of low-rent funk to a sort of Lower East Side, time-travelling disco, one with a dancefloor which seems to merge 1975 with the present day, New York loft-space living with chancers doing deals next to the bins behind Lidl.

No matter how much Subsequel clothes Girl From Around The Way in slick, soul-dance textures it is still the same stark and cheeky description of meaningless, functional sex and throwaway emotions. But that has always been its charm and it is perhaps a more truthful view of modern life than any piece of pop pap and chart dross banging on about love and relationships.

For me, the two most interesting tracks are the two which aren’t drawn from Alternate Realities, ones for which I have nothing to compare them with. Broken Glass builds a trippy, spacious and beguiling musical platform over which Ultra_eko spins his usual grim and gratuitous, yet honest and realistic lyrics of a relationship going down the tubes and Yellow sparks with hi-octane dance grooves whilst the lyrics relate to the story of a young lad trying to drag his father out of the pub.

Lyrically, it’s like Ken Loach writing pop songs, brilliant slices of modern life as experienced by those people who have fallen through the cracks in society. And, like Loach’s films, equally as hypnotic and off-putting in equal measure, the harsh realities of life laid bare before you, societal car-crashes that you can’t turn away from. And the reason that you can’t turn away is not just because the scenes and scenarios are so well-realised but because the music is so infectious.

The original album seemed to mix indie swagger with dance-pop accessibility, juggles hip-hop cool and grooves that wandered between soulful understatement and hi-octane clubland anthems, outsiderness and experimentation. This new lease of life is aimed more at the dance floor set. It clothes the songs in shine and sheen, which makes the lyrics pop out even more for their gritty realism.

But one take on the music is no better, no worse than the other. It probably depends on what mood you are in at any given moment. What it always comes down to is the songs themselves and we already know how great they are. So to get back to my original point, is a song ever finished? Into The Multiverse: The Subsequel Mixes proves the answer to be no. Songs evolve, they twist and turn, change and challenge, move on and modify. Just like the lives portrayed within them.

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