Bag Raiders - Self-Titled [Deluxe Edition]
Thu 29th Mar, 2012 Music Reviewsin
Back in October 2010, Sydney DJs-about-town the Bag Raiders swept in to deliver one of our favourite albums of that year. Having shown early promise with their back-to-back EPs on Bang Gang 12 Inches in 2007, the long-player was a few years in the making – and the perfectionism showed. As ITM authority daverh wrote at the time: “While Bag Raiders manage to do a little bit of everything on their first LP outing, after multiple courses of the record one thing stands out clearly above anything else: Bag Raiders are master of perfect sound. Seriously, everything here just sounds so well done and on-point.”
Sure enough, in the months following the album release, songs like Sunlight, So Demanding and Shooting Stars were impossible to dislodge from our heads, and that summer there were Bag Raiders festival sing-alongs at every turn. However, while the album saw the guys move breezily into vocal territory, the tracklist was not without its instrumental gems: from the spiralling Golden Wings to percussive party-saver Snake Charmer, which our review noted “is simply the best, and likely only, pan-flute club jam ever made.” It’s the kind of album you reach for when a bit of sunshine’s needed.
The album put the Bag Raiders firmly in the league of The Presets, Cut Copy and Midnight Juggernauts: all acts who can make killer singles and satisfying LPs. In the time since, the duo has been finessing its live show, and by the time the Stereosonic 2011 tour rolled around, they were watertight.
With any luck another album is underway, but in the meantime the Bag Raiders’ label Modular has packaged a deluxe edition of the pair’s debut. While most re-releases tend to be a non-event, this package includes a new disc of remixes actually worth owning. The Bag Raiders themselves have a strong track record as remixers, with credits for labelmates like Cut Copy and K.I.M. and overseas friends Headman, The Ting Tings and Kid Sister. When it comes to their remix disc, it’s the local team that shines. Modular rising stars Softwar deliver one of the highlights with a billowing, immersive take on Not Over, showing their right at home on Europe’s Warm agency roster with the likes of Tensnake. There’s real warmth and flair to what they do, stripping the original back and giving it a new sheen.
On-point remixer Cassian also does a fine job on his version of Snake Charmer, creating an unconventional dancefloor bomb full of busy percussion and, yes, just as much pan-flute. Then there’s Perth-bred gun Shazam who strips the vocals out of Shooting Stars to make a feelgood, grooving house tune that begs to be played al fresco. Then there are the remixers from further afield. One of the best comes from Berlin-based stalwart Sirusmo, whose association Modeselektor’s Monkeytown imprint should tell you how he rolls. His take on Shooting Stars first surfaced a few years back, but it still works. San Diego bass fiend Harvard Bass flips Way Back Home into a heads-down club weapon, measuring out the floating synths with some marching tribal drums. On his Sunlight remix, Armand Van Helden goes from grand gestures: all heightened vocals and hands-in-the-air.
The deluxe edition extras aren’t all remixes, though. US club singer Duane Harden – the voice on Armand Van Helden’s classic U Don’t Know Me and a string of other house records – sings his own version of Way Back Home, flipping it into a ‘90s piano house anthem. It’s a clever concept well done, and one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The Afrikan Boy version of Snake Charmer – pan-flute and rapping! – is not essential, but fun nonetheless.
Also included are some non-album tracks from the Bag Raiders that you might’ve heard pop up in their DJ sets. Strangers On The Roof also channels a straight-up piano house vein, while Heartbeat has a kind of slinky Chromeo vibe to it – and, crucially, there’s a sing-along chorus. There’s enough on this deluxe edition to keep completists and Bag Raiders beginners well stocked-up for next summer. Now, about that second album…