The perfect alternative

In late 2009, mesh published their sixth studio album "A Perfect Solution", which could easily match their previous works. Numerous gigs followed like the recent "Legends of Synthpop"-US-tour with their colleagues from De/Vision and Iris. A 'real' new album had not been announced yet, but with "An Alternative Solution" the two Brits Richard Silverthorn and Mark Hockings have just released a remix album consisting of two CDs. We contacted them in Bristol and asked how things are at the moment.

When looking back to "A Perfect Solution": Are you satisfied with the result or would you like to change something?

We are still happy with the result and the reaction of the fans. So I think that we wouldn't actually change anything drastically, if at all. We have already played these songs live so many times. You will make a few minor changes in the vocal-arrangements and the music inevitably. It would be nice if it was possible on the CD, too. Sometimes I really think that new songs should be played on tour first before recording them because in front of a real audience you can virtually feel the dead points of the tracks and also the parts that are well received. Eventually, it will be certainly possible to download an update for your record collection just as it's already possible with software now. That would be great!

How did the idea for "An Alternative Solution" arise and how long had you been working on it?

From the concept to the pressing everything went really quick, everything developed within the last year. That's really a relatively short time for an album. We have often thought about doing a remix album, but haven't got beyond that point. It's a lot of work to find the right people for it. And if you have them altogether you have to have to goad them so that everything is ready in time. With "A Perfect Solution", however, we were very sure that it was the right album for such a project. It was harmonious and with many songs. Many of the remixers are good friends of ours, whom we trust to work with our songs properly. That was very important to us. And also that the original track layout was kept. All in all it was rather a revision of the album than a compilation of the remixes.

Why did you release an entire remix album and not just a single with different mixes as it's most common?

Remixes on singles are different: There are usually three or four of them with the original version and can be used for comparison. The only requirements we made for "An Alternative Solution" were that the track had to stand as original for itself and the vocals should be heard. It was important that the remix version can be listened to on its own because not everyone has the original to compare on hand and you can't expect that the listener knows it.

How does it feel as an artist to hear your own songs in a new interpretation?

It can be very liberating. One thing that always puts my own music off is that the tracks often carry around a kind of recording legacy with them for example, problems we had during the production in the studio. You constantly have to think of them while listening. You never have, therefore, this unbiased listening experience as if listening to the music of someone else. In my opinion, a mix already comes pretty close to that feeling, though. It's simply wonderfully refreshing to get these songs presented by someone else and to get to know them from a completely different side.

Isn't it a strange feeling to simply wait for other people to virtually finish your album? Just to sit there and be able to do nothing but wait?

That was a bit strange, indeed. But also a nice feeling when the results arrived one by one. It was great just simply to listen to all these great versions with the knowledge that all we had to do was to wait for the booklet credits and the approval for the artwork. Each album should be done like that.

You can read the entire article in the issue 06/2011 of Sonic Seducer.

Catrin Nordwig, Sonic Seducer