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The Girl Talk Question

Sasha Frere-Jones' profile of Flying Lotus (Steven Ellison) from this week's New Yorker talks about the artist's remix of Radiohead's "Reckoner":

This doesn’t remake “Reckoner” so much as let it float, like a liquid suspended in another, heavier liquid. There is an elegant sense of proportion in this remix. As radical as the change of mood is, and as detailed as it manages to be, the track is less than four minutes and never gets too busy.

The remix is beautiful, but it raises a question. Ellison is neither a DJ nor an artist, and most of his work is original. But his "Reckoner" remix demonstrates how far remixes have come from the old days of dropping a techno beat over a pop song, with the remix largely analogous to the original. The remix has been elevated to an art form. Remixes, like Flying Lotus', can be remarkable reinterpretations of songs, standing on their own two feet. There is the famous Girl Talk debate. But with Ellison, the question is not legal. It is artistic. When does the a remix stop being a remix and become its own work of art?


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