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An Electro-Pop Trip: Ships Have Sailed’s Re:MIX EP

Ships Have Sailed

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Los Angeles natives Will Carpenter (vocals, guitar) and Dan Hange (bass) of the alt-pop/rock duo Ships Have Sailed released their first EP, Someday, in 2014 and followed that up with debut concept album Moodswings, this past March. The guys decided to shake up their thematic take with ‘re-makes’ of specific songs from their album by talented guest artists like Diamond Saints and DJ Goatmilk for their latest endeavor, the Re:MIX EP, which dropped on July 14th. The 4 chosen tracks are “Summertime,” “Out of Time,” “If Only,” and “Drive” and they are remixed by Matt Chiarelli, DJ Goatmilk, Mike Vincent, and Diamond Saints respectively.

The results of the remixing range from acceptable to exceptional, with the DJ Goatmilk remix being transformational. “Summertime (Matt Chiarelli Remix)” kicks off the EP in dancefloor-shaking fashion as Matt strips off the distorted rock riff refrains from the original song, but keeps its pop hooks, adding a deeper, thumping beat and a smattering of squiggly and squelchy electronics. The remix remains upbeat and shiny with Will’s free ‘n’ easy vocal delivery on the lines “Let go / Believe and we can both fly.”

DJ Goatmilk takes the original tune “Out of Time” to a different sonic space on his remix, throwing in a slew of groovin’ rhythms and sounds like globular pops, shimmering reverb electronic notes, and rushing washes of low-tone synths. Cascading arcade game blips zip by here ‘n’ there as well as Will’s vocals that are chopped up and used as part of the captivating aural miasma. The picked guitar notes, shuffling percussion, and measured drum beat of the straightforward original have totally disappeared. Will’s yearning, but direct vocals on lyrics like “I just wanna hold ya / ‘til the world runs out of time.” are also MIA, but this electronic-pop version of “Out of Time” more than holds its own.

The same can’t quite be said for next number “If Only (Mike Vincent Remix).” The strength of the original song is in its stripped back style and serious lyrics. Amid handclaps, finger snaps, shaken tambourine, guitar strum, and a slow beat, Will exclaims with heartfelt emotion, “If only I could feel your heart beat close to mine…/If only I could make you take back your goodbye.” The lyrics and feeling are affecting, but Mike has chosen to diminish the impact of the words on the remix by lowering them in the mix. He also adds more synth effects, burbling electronic notes, and shaking and ticking percussion that end up being a little too light and frothy for the solemn nature of the song.

Diamond Saints remixes the ode to youth “Drive” and the sonic transformation is substantial, but just a tad less mesmerizing than DJ Goatmilk’s version of “Out of Time”. Again, the original “Drive” is a starker number with a sharp, slow-clacking beat, subdued synth notes, and the simmering ring of burnished guitar lines. Will pushes out his vocals with urgency as he proclaims “Let’s never leave this place / Never grow old / Never say goodbye.” He’s trying to hold on to a moment in time and it seems like it might be possible on the fresh and upbeat tune. Dimond Saints take it for a different spin, slowing down the pace to a hypnotic flow of high and low hollow drum beats and distorted Oohing vocals. Vocal fragments are sculpted for their sound and not for their meaning, so the significance of the lyrics is lost to the sonics.

But what can be heard is enticing enough for the listener to just sit back and enjoy the ride.