August 24, 2002

Various Artists "Cool As Ice: The Be Music Productions"

For fascinating historical documents of the British independent music scene, fewer labels have been quite as enthralling as LTM. From their historical documents of one-single-only bands and others whose names are whispered with a certain amount of secrecy and awe, they have really preserved music that would otherwise have been lost to obscurity. Though some at Pitchfork Media might disagree, I personally think they're doing a service, and they should be commended for preserving the talents of folk such as Cath Carroll, Blue Orchids and The Wake.

Cool As Ice: The Be Music Productions is a little bit different, though, in that it was not originally a record--or, even, really a band. Instead, it is a collection of remixes done by New Order under the guise of "Be Music." As you'd expect, these remixes are dancefloor ready; unlike modern remixers, who think of a remix as an opportunity to bring their own special touch to a song, the Be Music style does not really change the style of the song. Indeed,the rhythms added by Hook, Gilbert, Sumner, and Morris are very contemporary; though none of the remixes have the same potency of "Bizarre Love Triangle," "Blue Monday" or "Perfect Kiss," they do come rather close.

Though this period of outside remixing as Be Music only lasted for about two years, they were quite productive dring that period of time. The twelve tracks on Cool As Ice represent the tip of their remix iceberg, and while there's no evidence that these are (or aren't) the best of the lot, these songs are all worthy of inclusion. Personally, I'm fond of Quando Quango's "Love Tempo," Section 25's "Looking From a Hilltop," Marcel King's "Reach For Love" and 52nd Street's "Can't Afford To Let You Go" and "Cool As Ice," two songs I vaguely remember from the eighties. While these songs might sound dated, some of them still sound fresh. Know why? It's simple, really. Many of these songs have rhythms that have been sampled, borrowed, or stolen. Cool As Ice also includes a New Order rarity, the "Be Music Theme," which was a Peter Hook composition that was used as intro music for Stockholm Monsters.

While Cool As Ice might serve as merely an interesting collection of underground dance remixes from the mid-1980s, these mixes also prove another point--that New Order were, at one time, a significant force to be reckoned with in the underground dance world. Nowadays they're considered nothing more than the guys who hung with Ian Curtis, and it's a shame that they're known as the lesser remnants of Joy Division who had some mainstream hits. Cool As Ice: The Be Music Productions certainly shows how ahead of the game they really were.

--Joseph Kyle

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