16 April 2021 (released)
17 April 2021
The influence of David Bowie is wide-reaching and his influence will be felt by artists well into the centuries to come. A supremely consequential cultural figure. With the vast array of genres that the man touched upon throughout his long career, his artistic progeny will splinter into a thousand different styles. It's said that every Black Sabbath song spawned its own sub-genre of metal. So too for the Starman in the pantheon of rock and electronica. And so, the choice of cover that an artist makes from his extensive catalogue is quite telling of their own musical and theatrical vision. Post-punks, goth rockers and glam bands will divvy up his Spiders from Mars era heavy hitters. Crooners and sensitive '80s synth-pop bands will vie for his emotional ballads...and half the damn groups will cover 'Heroes'. For those who revered the man for the outer limits of his eccentric strangeness, the '90s masterpieces 1. Outside and Earthling offer fertile ground for reinterpretation.
We can glean from Munich-born, Brooklyn-based electronic artist She's Excited!'s choice to cover 1995's 'Hallo Spaceboy' that she creates music that pulls from that nebulous, demented dreamland that Bowie honed in on for those '90s releases. The producer, also known as Anne Wichmann, strips down the pummelling industrial drums of the original in favour of an au courant downtempo laced with cyber glitches and erratic speech samples. This 2018 rendition still maintains that otherworldly weirdness that makes tracks like this from Bowie's oeuvre so compelling.
Friday, the dark electronic producer released the Shock Therapy EP focussed on two of her tracks, with remixes of them filling out the remaining three slots. Her original tracks are already an eclectic pastiche of electronic textures buzzing about the analog core of guitar and vocal. The remixes simply provide alternative colours to the already pulsing pieces.
Jacob's Ladder surges and wobbling bass provide an electrifying intro for the opener 'Add Clarity'. Wichmann evocatively struts with her words, using spiked sibilance with a low glammy croon as Bowie would oft love to do. She obstinately repeats “If I refuse to sleep/if I refuse to sleep/if I refuse to sleep” crescendoing with desperation, cresting in a psych metal yowl. She peaks on the tag “If I refuse to sleep, who's gonna dream my dreams?!?!” with the girdled growl of Graveyard singer Joakim Nilsson at his most impassioned. That tag line reverberates through the album, echoing throughout the remixes and defining the album's central inquisition. Sickly bending synths warp around her reverberating words with a Reznor level of innovative production. A smash-cut denouement attempts to settle the shakes from the anxiety of the thriller dream.
The other original tune 'Whole' eases off into an empty night street trip-hop. A looming bass synth follows Wichmann's vocals like a shadow in a dimly lit home. With the little terrors scheming outside her door and out in the ether, she's safe in her home. Her measured delivery keeps a theatrical grandeur. Its accompanying remix by fellow Brooklyn producer Cameron Gary takes the welcoming vibe of 'Whole' and gives it a pill, using the textures to create a nu-disco/house mix that melts into the loft party couch.
The album is rounded out by two remixes of 'Add Clarity'. The first is a sprawling live modular reimagining by LA producer Trovarsi. She takes her dream-seeking quest out on the open road for a pulsing techno exploration. A mix that begs for sweaty convulsion in some overpacked basement club. The second by New York synth-pop artist Primitive Heart hangs on a fluttering synth that tensely rattles like a hammered beam. Alien shrills and low ominous rumbles play out the colour of Wichmann's dream.
Shock Therapy is richly produced but never overdoes itself. Core sounds mutate and evolve as the varying elements making up the cacophony of the dream drift in and out of focus. Wichmann takes that spirit of '90s Bowie and incorporates moves from his pupil Trent Reznor's more subtle work to create an enticing and entrancing sound.