he case of Ewan Pearson poses an interesting conundrum. He has never released any original music to the public under his own name, yet there are enough remixes available to compile this double CD set, all billed to him. So when do we consider a remixer to be an artist in his or her own right? Does Pearson do enough with these remixes to forge something that should be considered his own “work” despite the fact that he didn’t technically compose any of the music on it, at least in the traditional (and the music publishing) sense? Does the identity on the front of the label affect the way we react to the music inside? Are we at the point where we can consider remixers to be artists in the traditional sense of the word?
Well, while the voices may sound familiar in spots—the Flaming Lips (with the Chemical Brothers), Goldfrapp, Franz Ferdinand, Pet Shop Boys, and Depeche Mode among others—Pearson does lovingly make each track his own. His trademarks—beats that propel rather than overpower, deep beds of spaced-out keys and echoing effects, a strong sense of melody—are all here in spades. Every track buzzes with energy to spare, and each individual piece goes towards forging the larger whole of the ARTISTIC STATEMENT. Except, it’s a remix collection. See the rub?
Whatever brings you to Piece Work, there’s plenty here to keep you coming back, from the sinister S&M; sax frenzy of Playgroup’s “Make It Happen” and the New Orderisms of Franz Ferdinand’s “Outsiders,” to the utterly sublime flotation of Cortney Tidwell’s “Don’t Let the Stars Keep Us Tangled Up” and the epic disco journey of Goldfrapp’s “Ride a White Horse.” But the overall feel and the sound and the real music here is Pearson’s and Pearson’s alone. Over the course of these 21 tracks, Pearson’s musical identity unfolds before your ears, and as a remixer and as an artist, there is no higher compliment to be paid.
I would argue yes, we can and we should consider the remixer the “artist” here, and I think most dance music enthusiasts have come to a similar conclusion over the years. However, to the vast majority of listeners, the name in lights is the only one that matters. Pearson’s work here can stand as Exhibit A in the court of public opinion on the matter, and thanks to the big names here, maybe this collection will make a dent in the public at large. Pearson’s particular brand of mutant tech house-cum-space-disco is easily identifiable on a four-track remix 12-inch—hearing it all together just reinforces the quality and consistency.