The latest chapter in Bill Wells’ ceaselessly creative musical story is as unpredictable as it is typical of the self-taught musician, songwriter and arranger. It’s deceptive, too.
On the surface, Remixes For Seksound is exactly what its title promises – eight tracks by a handful of groups, originally released on Estonian label Seksound and given the Bill Wells treatment.
From the first note, however, it’s apparent these are no mere remixes. These are reworkings, reconstructions from the ground up, in some instances containing little more than traces of the original songs, transforming shoegaze and dream-pop into jazz-accented lullabies.
In order to start work with as clean a slate as possible, Wells often gave the parent material a cursory airing in his home studio in Glasgow before pulling it apart and either composing entirely new arrangements or resculpting the supplied parts in his own unique fashion.
Vocal tracks were isolated as Wells penned new chord structures, devised fresh rhythms and ultimately applied his signature – a sophisticated, playful fusion of Burt Bacharach, Charles Mingus and Brian Wilson – to the donor songs. He also enlisted the talents of friends and previous collaborators including Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub, Stevie Jackson and Chris Geddes of Belle and Sebastian, singer Lorna Gilfedder and tuba player Danielle Price.
The results are as beguiling, refreshing and gentle as followers of Bill Wells would expect.
It was around 15 years ago that Seksound director Rein Fuks first approached Wells with an invitation to collaborate, having been entranced by Wells’ contribution to The Pastels’ remix album Illuminati (Domino, 1998). Wells undertook several remixes for Seksound while embarking on a slew of other projects, including two albums on Chemikal Underground with Aidan Moffat (Everything’s Getting Older in 2011 and The Most Important Place In The World in 2015), several albums with his mischievously titled National Jazz Trio of Scotland and Nursery Rhymes (Karaoke Kalk, 2015), an extraordinary suite recorded in New York and featuring a stellar cast including Yo La Tengo, Karen Mantler, Amy Allison, Syd Straw and many others.
Completing work on two remixes in early 2018, Wells and Fuks agreed the time had come to release these exemplary visions as a compilation. The fact the material on Remixes For Seksound spans 14 years and sounds magnificently cohesive is testament to the depth and endurance of Wells’ singular musical talent.
Side A Chromatic Nights (original song by Pia Fraus) / Lead Sister (Bad Apples) / Kaks Vööd (Imandra Lake) / Ilus Aeg (Imandra Lake)
Side B Mountain Trip Guide (Pia Fraus) / Yenissy (Pia Fraus) / Püünis (Imandra Lake) / Metsatants