Remix Rundown: INXS’s “I Need You Tonight”

Occasionally I like to search out new remixes, covers and mashups of classic tunes. I almost always find something better than the original, especially with tracks that were both good and well known to begin with.

This week it has been I Need You Tonight by INXS (pronounced “inkses”, of course :). Here’s the original for reference – or rather, the best approximation of the original I could find on YouTube easily.

Man, the video compositing dates it more than anything else…

The original track stands out for having a unique and instantly recognizable sound, even to this day. It is contaminated with vocals, but they are quite well integrated with the rhythm and melody and are a net plus.

Here are some of the mixes I’ve enjoyed most, in roughly increasing order of awesomeness. I take no responsibility for the sometimes NSFW video content – in some cases I wasn’t able to find a better version.

There’s always a Liebrand mix, isn’t there? Throwing this in not so much because I like it but because it’s a curiosity – an example of the early ’90s sample salad mixing style.

This unnamed mix is more like a standard late-90s anthem template overlaid with some INXS samples, but it works if you like the beat and chord progressions of that sort of music, which I do to some extent.

The Genesis Breaks mix is a fairly clubby mix that basically just replaces the bassline and speeds up the beat. It works though.

The Fractal System mix pretty straightforward but I do like the bouncy beat.

This mashup with a Sebastien Tellier track plus something else makes for a nice change of atmosphere.

Kazy’s cover has a slower pace and darker feel.

Now here’s where I think the mixes start to improve on the sound of the original.

The Rhythm Scholar mix is a bit faster-paced and clubby, but I’ve come to like it out of familiarity – I’ve heard this version a lot. I especially like the modified vocal background sample that comes in occasionally starting around 2:05.

This Wehbba mix is a fairly direct mix adding a new beat, bassline and a few distorted samples. A little on the beaty side but I like the use of stuttered accent samples here and there.

Another Wehbba mix with more of an electro-funk feel to it.

The Manhattan Deep Dub mix is a less direct remix than most, being closer to a selection of choice samples included in a new track, but it does make a decent semi-mellow coding background track.

A mashup (I think) with Shaka Ponk results in a nice rock & roll adaptation. Strong sounds in this one.

I really like the replacement guitar sounds in this Roman, Button and Cosmic JD mix.

The Streetlab mix – not sure what to call this, but it works. I especially like the kick drum beat in this one.

A cover by Cassettes Won’t Listen – probably my favorite of the versions I’ve heard that are definitely covers rather than remixes.

The Devant vs. Filo & Peri mix was my favorite last time I made the rounds on this track. It’s still great. Somehow the bassline that starts around 1:45 feels good, especially when it comes back at 4:30 for the reprise.

The Natema mix is definitely my favorite from the lot. It’s got several nice ambience changes scattered through, and some simple but nice sampling and synth work. I had this one on loop for a whole day and kept going back to it for the rest of the week.

There are lots more mixes of this track out there, but I think I found the majority of the ones posted to YouTube, and these were (in my opinion) the best of the lot.

Overlooked gems: The Monolith Monsters (1957)

(IMDB link) (Wikipedia link – contains spoilers)

A meteorite delivers silicate crystals with a composition not found on Earth, that grow at alarming speed when exposed to water and then fall over and shatter, advancing them across the terrain. Essentially a simplified ice-9 problem.

tmm

I like this film for two reasons. For one, it’s a science fiction with an unusually credible alien threat.  The only presumption that falls outside known science is that such a substance could exist, and that’s enough to build a potentially world-threatening danger from. And given the amazing properties of some chemical reactions, it is easily believable.

Secondly, there are no stupid or venal characters. Everybody in the film behaves rationally and civilly and makes reasonable decisions based on the information they have. When someone needs convincing, it’s done easily by showing them the evidence. Nobody acts contrary to anyone’s best interests out of greed, vengeance or evil.

In short, deliberate stupidity and malevolence are contrivances not needed to artificially drive the plot. I am hard pressed to think of a movie made in the last three decades that didn’t rely on those things to create plot points. I am increasingly driven to review science fiction movies from the 50s and 60s because of this – it’s refreshing to see some actual competent writing that expresses confidence in humanity rather than the cynical mistrust so common today.

Oh, and for the era the special effects in this film are amazingly good. The sound design is excellent too.

What I’ve Been Watching

Europa Report – Above average science fiction, delivers what you want from this type of movie.  Decent effects.  Good acting and story.  Slight over-reliance on simulated video transmission glitches.

Contagion – Not knowing what actual contagious disease control protocols are, this seemed a pretty reasonable dramatization of a new plague to me.

Dark Space – You know all those movies where some teenagers go off to a cabin in the woods for a weekend of partying, and mostly get killed by something there?  This is that, in space.  The nature of the danger is different from what I expected, and that made it a little more interesting.   This is one of those “Nouveau B” movies that has decent CG effects that are undermined by bad compositing (typically the CG lighting doesn’t quite match the live footage) and what might be competent acting obscured in some scenes by bad foley (sound timbre or echoes that don’t match the setting).

 Last Days on Mars – Pretty much the same as all the other zombies-on-Mars stories I’ve seen.  Good production values.

 Cargo – You know when someone signs on for a long haul on a corporation-run space ship, that corporation will turn out to be up to no good and it will cost a lot of lives.  But this standard-trope tale was more well told than usual.  Good effects, good acting, and best of all no reliance on blood and gore or spring-loaded cats.

The Haunted Palace – Another entry in my project to hunt down HP Lovecraft stories. This one claims to be based on both a Lovecraft story and an Edgar Allen Poe poem, though which specific ones are unstated.  The main character’s name, Charles Dexter Ward, is taken from a Lovecraft story but there’s no strong correspondence with any of the Lovecraft stories I’ve read.  Generally this is a pretty good flick though, as are most featuring Vincent Price.  The only place it falls flat is in the creature effects department – using optical effects to try and suggest movement in what is clearly a statue.

Slime City Massacre – Pretty much what you’d expect.  It starts out like a modern B-movie with bad effects, then turns into typical stalking monster fare.

The Hybrid – Quite enjoyable.  The first half is decently suspenseful cloak & dagger stuff, and the rest is a science fiction splatterfest.

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – Documentary about the CoS.  It’s well known that they’re dangerous crazies, but there is a lot of stuff covered in this film that I wasn’t aware of, that makes it even worse.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – Reasonably entertaining, though I don’t like how divergent it is from the mainstream origin story for Ultron.

Mad Max: Fury Road – Oh hell yes! I was looking forward to this so much I went back and re-watched all the previous Mad Max movies.  I thought I might not like this one as much because it had a different lead actor, but he pulled it off satisfactorily. Though really it was Furiosa who was the star of the show.  Rollicking good post-apocalyptic road warrioring fun!

Ex Machina – Entertaining and has a nice happy ending, but I wish it were possible to write this sort of story in such a way that it was entertaining AND made sense. The problem with this one, as is too often the case, is that some of the main characters (the two human ones) are morons, and have to be stupid for the plot to work. We’re let to believe through exposition that they’re both super geniuses, but they both overlook some rather basic flaws in their planning, and are very careless.

The Machine – Similar theme to Ex Machina but in a different setting and with different motivations. Still some stunningly stupid blind spots, this time on the part of the organization running the show.

Age of Ice – In the budding “father tries to save family from natural disaster” genre, and as seems typical of the genre the uptight, domineering, stupid asshollishness of the father proves to be more of a menace than the disaster itself.  I tend to be pretty forgiving of bad movies but this is one of the rare ones that makes me resent the waste of time spent watching it. There is so much stupid and inexplicable dialog it feels like the script was written by a committee of infinite monkeys, and I wanted to strangle many of the characters much of the time. The CG effects are poor – no attention to detail (I spotted multiple copies of the same tree in some scenes, not even rotated relative to each other), and terrible compositing and lighting.  Oh, and predictably the little kid’s video game obsession turns out to be a survival skill. That always happens when there’s a game-obsessed little kid in an adventure movie.

 

What I’ve Been Reading

Incandescence by Greg Egan

Pretty decent hard-SF first-contact story. A lot of it details the reasoning process of figuring out the nature of movement under gravity using natural observations, and some of the experiments described I found a little difficult to visualize.

What I liked most about this story is how the two threads almost sailed right past each other. Often in first-contact stories there are two narrative threads, usually one from the “explorer” perspective and one from the “native” perspective, and at some point they meet and usually combine into one thread or two parallel threads after that.  This book follows that model, except for the meeting part – basically the two threads are only joined together by one sentence near the end; no characters from either thread ever meet any characters from the other thread, but one thread still depends heavily on the other.

 


Halting State by Charles Stross

A pretty fun spy vs. spy mystery-thriller with a strong nerdish bent and good plot twists near the end.  It had a lot of near-future Scottish slang that I couldn’t figure out, but that’s acceptable in stories where the author is making up a future regional slang.

I like how the three narrative lines were arranged in such a way that two of them almost merged to provide quick gratification of some of the end-of-chapter cliffhangers.

Stross was wrong about facial recognition software being a hard problem though.

 


 

Manta’s Gift by Timothy Zahn

Pretty much what it says on the cover: Political maneuvering between human with shadowy, presumed-evil overlords and aliens with unclear motivations in an exotic environment, with a little bit of adventure thrown in.  It was a pretty decent read and kept me going from chapter to chapter.

 


JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford

A friend recommended this when I expressed an interest in learning JS, and I’m glad she did. This book makes sense out of a potentially very powerful programming language that gets a few things wrong in very confusing ways.  Getting a tour of the language features from someone who can explain what’s good and what’s bad and why they’re good and bad is the perfect approach.  Highly recommended.

 


 

Courtship Rite by Donald Kingsbury

I’ve had this book on my inbound shelf for decades. I tend to have a habit of being slow to getting around to this sort of classical science fiction, but I tend to find it rewarding to read when I get around to it.

This book was definitely rewarding; seldom have I read such a well-written story. Kingsbury manages to weave an engrossing tale of a historical event in a slightly bizarre human society on a far-flung colony world, without any narratorial exposition until the very end. It gradually expands from the very small scope of one familly, to the machinations of a few small societies, and then at the end very satisfyingly zooms out to put it all in the context of a suddenly very fascinating galactic diaspora.

I now want to read more stories set in this universe.

 

Lethe by Tricia Sullivan

A reasonably interesting post-apocalyptic adventure with an unusual vision of the grim meathook future. Some interesting plot devices and characters, but although the minor plot points of the ending were not predictable, the big revelation was telegraphed far ahead of time.

 

507 Mechanical Movements by Henry T. Brown

Exactly what it says on the title – patent diagrams and descriptions of 507 mechanisms for performing different kinds of transformations on mechanical power.

I’m not disappointed, but I did find some of the diagrams and descriptions difficult to follow, partially because more views would have been useful and partially due to use of opaque and archaic language.

There was one mechanism that I had a hard time believing would work, but all attempts to search for it online lead back to this book.

 

 

 

What I’ve Been Watching

Elysium: Disappointing second outing from Blomkamp.  Great effects but pretty transparent and heavy-handed story obviously inspired by the whole “99%” thing.  I liked District 9 better.

Ender’s Game: Would have made an OK TV series or movie series, but in a single movie it was far, far too condensed.

Gravity: Liked this one quite a lot.  It’s a long series of highly improbably flukes of luck that lead to the main character surviving her ordeal, but aside from the luck part the rest seemed believable to me.  Cinematography was great.

Interstellar: Best science fiction movie I’ve seen in a very long time. The sound mix was awful, with the music drowning out the dialogue in many places and some of the sound effects being painfully loud, but that’s pretty much my only complaint about it.

Oblivion: Meh.  I’ll admit one of the plot twists did surprise me but it suffers from the same premise problem as most alien invasion flicks: Natural resources in general are easier to find out in space than to lift off a planet.

Riddick: Exactly what I expected: Vin Diesel’s “manly man” character being the same asshole he usually is, with lots of killing of people and creatures and highly improbable badassity.  Disappointed in the creatures in this one – I liked the ones in Pitch Black better.  Terrible movie but delivers what it promises.

The Colony: At least in this post-apocalyptic fight for survival humanity screwed up the weather directly, by building buggy weather control machines.  The good guys’ quest in this flick is to find the one place where a working machine provides a habitable environment while avoiding back-stabbing cowards and a tribe of wandering cannibals.  It’s mostly about people getting eaten or dying in noble self-sacrifice.  Meh.

Hobbit part 3: Enjoyed it a lot, but it wasn’t quite as good as the previous two.  I don’t remember the book very well as it’s been a very long time since I read it, but I think there’s enough divergence the movie should be “inspired by” the book and not “based on” it.  The 3D worked, but as with the first movie the high frame rate gimmick broke immersion repeatedly – it looks less real at the higher frame rate.

The Doomsday Machine: Of course Chairman Mao would not only build a planet-buster but would also be crazy enough to use it.  This one is about a last-ditch attempt to save the human race by getting a handful of men and women into space before the big one hits.  The commander of the mission is an amazing asshole – basically a rapist whose intent becomes overt as soon as it becomes obvious their ship is on its own.  He’s really, really, really creepy and surprisingly for the time this flick was made, it actually does admit that he is perhaps not the most upstanding person to have in command of a space mission.  I feel like this one reused footage from a couple other similar movies of the time, and the ending was about as deus ex as it gets – it feels like they got to the last 30 seconds of the movie and suddenly realized they needed an ending.

After Earth: Exactly what I expected from the trailer, namely Will Smith and his son (both real and fictional) bonding through an ordeal on the hostile planet called… wait for it… Earth, and coming out of it a more functional family.  Nothing wrong with the production though I was hoping for more creature effects, but I really have to wonder how much the production of this movie was intended to help the Smiths’ real-life relationship.

Automata: Liked this one a bunch.  I’ll tentatively recommend this as one of the better science fiction movies of 2014.  Not much I can say about it that isn’t either spoiler or covered by the synopsis.

Edge of Tomorrow: As an action flick it’s pretty good, but as science fiction it’s terrible.  The main plot device is that the alien boss can rewind time, and will reset the day whenever one of its mini-bosses gets killed.  OK, that’s not too bad, and the limitations on its time travel ability cover why it doesn’t just retcon its enemies out of existence. But here’s where it gets weird: The one who kills that mini-boss receives a fragment of the time control power – enough to be able to reset the day if he or she gets killed, and to remember what happened on all the previously retconned days, and to sense where the alien boss is located.  I’m at a loss to explain how that’s supposed to work unless this time power is magic instead of technological.

But wait, it gets better: Somehow this time power resides in your blood, and the aliens can take it back from you by getting a sample of your blood. WTF?  And then there’s this quantum physics gizmo that can partially reactivate the power after that if you jab your leg with the pointy end, because blood… what?  Does Not Compute.  The plot devices are so ludicrous that this movie is a flop as a science fiction.

Extraterrestrial: Straight-up UFO stuff.  Teenagers, cabin in the woods, UFOs, greys, anal probes, government in cahoots with the aliens.  Some blood and gore and one or two spring-loaded cats.  I’ll give it credit for having the ending I thought less probable.

Hangar 10: You guise! I’ve got a GREAT IDEA!! Let’s do Blair Witch only with aliens instead of whatever was in that movie.  That’s how the pitch for this one went, I’m sure.  Now, I really really hate Blair Witch style shaky-cam cinematography, but even so I still watched it to the end and thought everything but the cinematography was moderately well done.  There were a couple of scenes where I’m certain none of the characters could have been holding the camera, which is such an obvious flaw to look for in this sort of movie that I wouldn’t put it past some producers to add some deliberately as easter eggs.  There were some surprisingly good visual effects at the end and I have to confess I didn’t fully understand what happened at the very end, but I’m OK with that – it’s usually better than exposition.

Her: Thoughtful and a good ending, but I found some of the interior romantic scenes uncomfortable.  Glad I didn’t see this one with family.

In the Mouth of Madness: I’ve been on an HP Lovecraft reading binge lately and am now branching out to the few movies inspired by his works.  Imagine my surprise to find one produced by John “The Thing” Carpenter!  It was decent though not directly based on any of the HPL stories I’ve read.  The main plot device was the idea that belief makes things real and that by inspiring enough belief, a horror fiction author could bring back the Elder Gods.  Trouble with this is that the population figures quoted for this cult were below the numbers of at least three major religions, so there should have been proof of existence of their deities well in advance.

Lucy: The pain, the pain.  This movie has Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman and some decent effects, and that’s about it.  The entire premise of the film is based on the long- and well-debunked myth that humans only use a small portion of their brain capacity.  And somehow it gets from there to full-on mind over matter; Johansson’s character seems to become a Jean Grey scale telekinetic as a result of becoming superintelligent, which to me does not naturally follow.  The movie ends up being a fast-paced power fantasy.  If you want a decent movie about the emergence of super-intelligent individuals, skip this one and watch…

Limitless: An effective nootropic drug turns a wannabe author into an engine of effectiveness… until other people catch on and get their own supply of the drug.  Liked this one all the way through, and recommend it.

The Dunwich Horror (1970): Another Lovecraft derivative.  Too much of a departure from the original plot for my liking, though some of the characters were well acted.  The creature effects, while not terrible considering when they were done, were also not what I expected to see.

The Signal (2014): Pretty decent SF though I saw the big reveal plot twist coming well in advance.  Young crackers are lured to a remote location thinking they’re on the trail of a competing cracker, and instead end up involved with greys and Area 51 types and have to escape captivity and being experimented on.

Transcendence (2014): Not what I expected from the trailer, and I was very disappointed in its anti-transcendence slant though of course the cynic in me expected it; how often is it we get a pro-technology, pro-humanity science fiction flick?  Much of the conflict in the story could have been avoided had the main character not made a couple of mistakes that are so stupid they belie the superintelligence we’re supposed to believe of him.  And the ending was poor too; I can’t buy the happily reunited transcendent couple happily hiding out in their favorite garden when they could simply have left the planet and been unconstrained.

Under the Skin (2013-A): One of the artiest movies I’ve ever seen.  If you like WTF nonsensical European low-budget science fiction art films then you’ll probably like this one, though the production values are pretty good here.  What I liked most about this flick is there’s no exposition at all; it’s up to us to figure out what the story is and for the most part that’s not too hard, but the start and end are unresolved. We don’t really know how these events came to be or what the significance of the ending is.  I’m OK with that.  Liked it, but again I’ll warn you that there’s no neat bow tie on anything here and it may be unsatisfying.

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