For unassuming and occasionally awkward producer (and radio presenter) Tim Shiel, Faux Pas is an unexpectedly bold musical alter-ego – all dancing drums, whimsical synth sounds and an alluring sense of movement. In this, his third release (predated by another EP and an album), he shows off his skill as a remixer – with three reworkings sandwiched between a couple of top Faux Pas productions.
Changes’ half dozen tracks are a fine summer six-pack – easy to take to the party, and not overwhelming enough to exhaust one’s stamina. Originals ‘Changes’ and ‘Coach’ (and ‘Coach in reverse’, which is pretty much as the title suggests) are engaging pieces of collage-driven electronica – with sampled notes, drums, and hits rather than significant chunks of other recordings. They both skitter away in a solid fashion; it’s no great stretch of the imagination that ‘Changes’ might become a quiet dancefloor hit, with its gently sweeping melodies and vocal hook. Shiel has a knack for cueing the, er, changes before loops outstay their welcome.
What I suspect will be the clincher for many, though, is the remix of Pikelet’s ‘Bug In Mouth’. It’s like an early 90s commercial house hit, with frown’n’glide synth hooks and a beat which sends my mind straight to some cheesy beach party; flames on bamboo poles, congas being played into the night. It might just be the party at the end of the world, and I hear the kick drum echoing a little across the water, which ripples listlessly in the still-smoldering night. Pikelet’s swooning vocal gives way to an unbelievably tacky portamento noodle, and even that can’t spoil the mood.
In other words, it’s somewhat naff on paper – but on a pair of speakers, it’s really, really good.
Stepping back to pre-Apocalypse for a moment, and the Aleks and the Ramps and Zeal remixes round it off nicely. The Ramps’ ‘Pisces vs Aquarius’ gets the cabin fever treatment, with its elemental drums pulled to the front alongside a couple of buzzingly ominous chords. Aleks’ distorted vocals propel the song until it winds down into a breakdown/outro – similar to that of the original track, but with extra sugar-coating. Still on the sugary tip, Faux Pas injects Zeal’s ‘Yumi and the Sky’ with a couple of Ramps banjo lines (taken from ‘Graveyard Etiquette’) which sit surprisingly well with Zeal’s soft, boyish croon. Add a calypso mid section that resembles a detergent ad, and you’re somewhere close to picturing it.