Chris Carter – Moonlight review

It’s amazing how certain pieces of music can still sound fresh and revolutionary 20 or 30 years after their initial release. This is a more frequent occurrence in rock and pop music than in the electronic sphere, where improvements in technology often render old recordings obsolete. While there is usually a certain raw charm to early examples of synthesizer-heavy electronica, very few records of this ilk have dated well. Some early industrial records have lasted well, but only because they were so confrontational and out-there in the first place.

Chris Carter’s “Moonlight” has aged wonderfully. Originally included on the Throbbing Gristle man’s experimental 1984 album Mondo Beat – something of a sought after classic for fans of synth-wave – it has gone on to achieve cult status thanks to its unique combination of sparse, bubbling electronic rhythms, ambient chords and darting, alien melodies. It’s considered by some to be an unlikely Balearic classic, and a re-edited version appeared on the first ever Mindless Boogie 12” a few years back.

Here, it gets a deserved re-release on JG Wilkes and JD Twitch’s Optimo Music label. Twitch has long been a fan of Carter’s work and included “Moonlight” on one of his synthwave mixes a few years back; furthermore there is even a fanboy style write-up about how great the record is on the Optimo website. Listening again, it’s hard to better the original for atmosphere and raw emotion; even now, 27 years after its original release, “Moonlight” is a powerful record. Yet for this re-issue, Twitch has taken the bold step of commissioning two new remixes.

There’s a certain sense in getting Oneohtrix Point Never to reinvent the record; his experiments with vintage synthesizers and electronic equipment could be seen as a kind of continuation of the experimental work of Carter, Throbbing Gristle and others. Certainly, his take on “Moonlight” is faithfully adventurous, recasting the bubbling and melodic original as an eerie drone-scape full of endless chords, discordant electronic noise and cacophonous reverb. It barely resembles Carter’s original, but it comes from the same place.

The other remix comes from John Selway’s Neurotic Drum Band project, the New York act who’ve impressed with some decidedly atmospheric electronic disco releases on Wurst. Wisely, they choose to retain many of the original elements, adding some moody new sounds to give the track extra potency. Like the near-faultless original, the results are weary but inspired.

Matt Anniss