ZE Records cut an incredibly cool dash in the late 70’s. A label dedicated to the more esoteric side of pop, it harnessed New York’s sense of reckless abandon and combined new wave and disco talents in a perfect way. Before Talking Heads and A Certain Ratio, ZE put new wave talent together with Chic producer Bob Blank and a host of session gods to make something unique and very fun.
And now, hip as ever, ZE have extended the hand of cool to Europe’s edit kings for a timely fiddle with some deliciously off-kilter material. The calibre of the remixers on this compilation is a testament to the cultish status ZE has built up over the years. Forefather of the edit scene Greg Wilson takes on Was (Not Was)’s “Tell Me That I’m Dreaming” and keeps the original’s breezy vibe and extends it over 6 joyful minutes. Elsewhere, Norwegian genius Todd Terje has fun with Gichy Dan’s Beachwood No 9, bringing the kid-sung chorus to the fore and creating something akin to Stevie Wonder’s “Another Star” in the process.
Kid Creole (aka August Darnell) was a major figure within ZE, with fingers in many of the label’s funkier pies. His own band are represented here with mixes of the classic “Annie, I’m Not Your Daddy” by Soul Mekanik (who in a previous life used to be 90’s Madchester chart-botherers Candy Flip), and The Idjut Boys. Darnell also produced Aural Exciter’s “Spooks In Space”, a brilliantly gonzo bit of marimba-driven boogie that sounds even better after getting the Filthy and Foolish treatment. Pilooski’s workover of “I’m an Indian Too” is pretty radical (a remix rather than a straight up edit, unlike his ubiquitous reworking of Begging), but it’s no bad thing.
Whether you were lucky enough to grow up with ZE, or are completely fresh to their unique catalogue, this collection has tons to offer.
Review: Oliver Keens