The deep blues of Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy album cover have been replaced with drab charcoal grays on The Haxan Cloak’s remix of “Things It Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution.” “Things” was a standout track off of a record full of standout tracks. Unfortunately, the remix has siphoned the signature wit and colorful instrumentation of Josh Tillman’s alter ego and replaced it with sparse and empty synthesizers.
The Haxan Cloak — a British producer and multi-instrumentalist known for his dark, apocalyptic instrumentals — somehow seems out of place in a song about the apocalypse. Though the vocals and lyrics remain untouched, the humor that permeated the original is now gone. The unmixed track was a musical “this is fine” meme, with Father John Misty playing the role of the dog in a blazing house. He misses being at the “top of the food chain” while enjoying a “perfect afternoon” walk in an abandoned city. Accompanied by quiet piano keys and drums, Tillman and his cognitive dissonance provide a warm soundtrack for the end of times.
The remix trades this internal irony for an overtly downcast take on the song. The Haxan Cloak replaces the melancholy piano and percussion with an outer space-inspired remix. The disconnect of Father John Misty’s unusual pep and optimism in the face of the end of humankind and the reality of an apocalypse carried the original song. The newly released mix of the song chooses to lose the most interesting aspect of the uncut version, instead opting for a straightforward glumness. Electronic beeps are sprinkled to accompany long, distant synthesizers. Tense strings occasionally come in and out, but more often than not the music defers to Tillman’s vocals. All of the harmonics further a singular goal: to convey how far the human race has fallen. Perhaps this nightmarish take could have worked as a standalone track, but it compares unflatteringly to the original’s nuance and tongue in cheek tone.
Regrettably, The Haxan Cloak’s remix of “Things It Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution” is not required listening for Father John Misty aficionados. Though fans of his past work may find something here worth delving into, this remix will likely not see anything more than cursory listens. This new track is a disservice to those who come to expect a certain cleverness from Josh Tillman. Who knew the apocalypse could be so boring?
Contact Derek Fang at [email protected].