The Middle Land

Enlisting an esteemed cavalcade of underground DJs to put their spins on Paul Simon’s music is the sort of genre merging of personally-beloved old and new that would seem cater-made for yours truly.

Write All Nite typically doesn’t cover cover albums because I’m all about original work…which the recently-released collection of remixes of Simon’s legendary Graceland actually qualifies as…which is weirdly kind of the problem.

A vast majority of the tracks are merely standard house, deep house, and techno bangers, just with Simon’s original vocals — digitally-altered, of course — sprinkled throughout. They’re perfectly enjoyable for us electro-heads, but Simon — who, unlike a lot of his contemporaries, has long accepted and even experimented with evolutions in music instead of judging them as departures from the classic style that must be right because it brought him so much artistic and commercial success — missed an opportunity to indoctrinate his musically-conservative fans to a modern type of music that many hear as nothing more than noise.

There’s a difference between superficial merging and fundamental melding, and too often this package unfortunately falls on the former side of that line. The only songs that transcend the confines of a typical remix include more than just smatterings of Simon’s lyrics (most use them as glorified samples). The best — such as Paul Oakenfeld’s contribution (unsurprisingly, the most noteworthy DJ on the bill is responsible for its highlight) — bear enough marks of both EDM and Simon to appease followers of each.

I respect Simon for supporting this concept, but instead of selling his old tunes to the musical movers and shakers of today then watching from the sidelines, next time he should try properly collaborating with them to create truly original work, ensuring his fans listen and thus reckon with completely-worthwhile, equally-valid music far outside their comfort zones.

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