Artist: Arab Strap
Title: The Clearing
Format: 12" single
Label: Chemikal Underground
Catalogue Number: CHEM013
Year of Release: 1997
A1 The Clearing
B1 Remixed by Hungry Lions
B2 Remixed by Iain Hanlon & Jonathan Hilditch
So, four months after releasing a critically acclaimed album that staunchly refuses to shift in vast quantities, what do you do? Do you take a popular track from the album, get some famous remixers in and put out another single? Not if you're Arab Strap you don't. You take one of the darkest and most brooding tracks, and both re-record it yourselves, and have it remixed by people who nobody has heard of before or since.
The re-recording is quite good, featuring two (then) members of Belle & Sebastian, and another one of Aidan's dictaphone songs at the end. These crop up after several songs on The Week Never Starts Round Here, and on that album most of the humour in these little whispered ditties comes from the fact that they are all recorded in one night, after having been out to some pub or club, and as it gets earlier and earlier in the morning (as the album progresses) it becomes a more and more absurd thing to be doing (singing quietly into a dictaphone). If you were to hear this one at the end the single with no prior knowledge of the album, you'd wonder what the hell it was doing there.
The remixes are OK, the first dispatches the majority of the lyrics almost a capella a the beginning, then the beat kicks in, lifted straight from the original, and some sampled guitar lines loop around it, with what sounds suspiciously like a pan pipe. This ends, and the final part of the lyrics are delivered, over an incongruous fog-horn sample, and the sound of buoys bobbing on the waves. At least, that's what it sounds like to me.
The second remix just focuses on two lines of the song, being: "And now the things that used to turn me off, I find endearing. And they laugh behind the trees as she lies naked in the clearing", which crop up about a dozen times during the track, becoming mildly irritating towards the end. It has a different beat at least, but otherwise the instrumentation is much the same.
I would hesitate to recommend it to anyone but a completist, although the forest glade pictures are nice.