"I'm still experimenting with exactly how I think an electronic music performance can or should be conducted," SOPHIE told DJ Mag last month. "I was envious of performers in pop or even old rock; taking their guitars to the front of the stage and having a real interaction with the crowd... I'm trying to find the perfect in-between." SOPHIE's DJ sets reflect this idea. She plays unfamiliar versions of her tracks in fits and starts. Acapellas are layered over noisy rhythms. Vocal hooks are cruelly teased in. In this context, her music sounds mutable and alive. This livewire approach comes through on her new album, which features 25 remixes remixes of tracks from last year's Oil Of Every Pearl's Un-Insides and runs together like a mix CD. It's an exhilarating listen that reaffirms her status as a key electronic music artist.
The album's formats are an extension of that hybridity, in line with some of her past releases. Like 2015's PRODUCT, which came packaged with a custom dildo, the physical edition of the remix album is available only with a clutch bag. The digital version is only accessible via two continuous streams on YouTube. (For those who don't have a YouTube Music subscription, there's no easy way to listen to the album on the go.) SOPHIE has a way of making her releases feel unique, each one a part of some impossible puzzle, and this latest strategy underlines the uniqueness of her latest full-length.
On the first half, SOPHIE takes a tour through some of the original LP's most recognizable songs, molding them into twisted dance jams. "Ponyboy (Faast Boy Remix)," for example, is a bouncy club track with a deranged twist—the vocal sample from "Ponyboy" is battered until it all melts into textural filth halfway through. The second disc is less dance-oriented, focused instead on ambient passages, powerful vocal performances and five consecutive "Infatuation" remixes that fade into tranquil drone.
SOPHIE's remixing is as fluid as her DJ sets: old songs transform into new ones, and familiar elements pop up like motifs. Sometimes you can't tell which song a remix is meant to be remixing. This ambiguity feels purposeful, even political: "Queer people shouldn't be made to feel like their identities are not mainstream," SOPHIE has said. "I think it's really important to break down those binaries, and not feel that because you are making 'weird' music, that you are a 'weird' person."
While there are plenty who would consider SOPHIE's music "weird," there's also something universal about its appeal. You can hear it in action on this two-disc set, which beckons you to dance to even the most abrasive, helter-skelter sounds, underlining the joy in SOPHIE's music. The LP offers catharsis through rambunctious beats, sweet melodies and the gnarliest sounds SOPHIE can muster. It brings her themes of searching, self-acceptance and identity directly onto the dance floor, in ways that are as splashy, strange and unforgettable as you'd hope.