Once upon a time, someone decided to make the most unsettlingly weird music video ever. As it happens, this video had a pretty good soundtrack. In fact, Noisia’s ‘Machine Gun’ is so good that it’s spawned at least two remixes from prominent artists in the same scene.
The original is a “typical” Noisia track: drum-and-bass-ish, with touches of house and other assorted electronica, as well as a sense of undeniable foreboding – if someone were to turn a dubstep club into a haunted house, its ambient soundtrack would probably sound something like this, with the leaping high synth serving for those fill-your-pants bits when the ghost jumps out of the minibar.
if someone were to turn a dubstep club into a haunted house, its ambient soundtrack would probably sound something like this
However, the tune is far from synthetic and treble-obsessed: a pounding kick drum underlines the whole track, like the throbbing heart of a malignant beast, while a distorted bass punctuates its footsteps, and a cutting synth lead shines on its fangs in the moonlight. Spooky stuff, but a balanced and very high-quality tune, as usual from the Noisia crew, with no particular flaws.
Following on from this came the remix of the same track from dubstep artists 16bit. By far the most famous of the remixes (and considerably more well-known than the original), a large portion of this tune’s chops probably come from the fact that it was featured on blockbuster video game Far Cry 3’s trailer to great effect. That’s not to say its fame is undeserved, however: the track was chosen for a reason, and is an incredible listen.
The longest incarnation of Machine Gun, the latter portion of its six minutes are filled with some seriously good sound (although it takes a little while to get going): 16bit converted the track to a full-on dubstep tune, and there is plenty of wub to go around, with drops hitting like you kissed a freight train, etc. etc. There are also a bunch of very atmospheric ‘battlefield’ sound effects thrown in, from planes to gunshots, and they’re manipulated in tandem with synth and bass drops twith masterful poise; the end product has the agility of a leaping deer, and is a joy to listen to.
The third incarnation of the track was put out by drum-and-bass legend Spor, who brings his usual golden touch to an already brilliant tune. A departure from the other two incarnations, Spor’s remix trades out Noisia’s spookiness and 16bit’s battle-centric sound effects for raw speed and urgency. If 16bit’s track is a leaping deer, Spor’s is a cheetah on an amphetamine binge, going on a pleasure sprint for no other reason than to enjoy those powerful feline muscles.
The level of control on Spor’s part here is simply staggering. Every touch of bass and synth hits in perfect harmony, and the two are excellently balanced, with the former racing along at a screaming pace while maintaining Clint Eastwood-level cool, and the latter darting forth at every beat with fresh dexterity and swiftness. It’s hard to think of any other electronic track that maintains this pace and technicality simultaneously, while making it look so very easy at the same time.
If you haven’t caught on yet, Spor’s version of the track is by far my favourite of the three, but a lot of it does boil down to opinion. Did you come here for a muscly, foreboding tune, a high-octane bass-blaster, or that unstoppable super-cheetah? In the first two cases, both are excellent tracks, but there are better within their respective categories. Stigma (also from Noisia) springs to mind for the first, while I’d suggest Bare Noize’s remix of Kill Everybody for the second.
In the latter category, however, Spor remains untouched. First-rate stuff.