Thrifty Astronaut, the musical project of Nick Jones from Fort Collins, released the album Caffeine Heartache last fall. Jones, sitting on some extra demos, decided to ask a handful of Colorado bands to contribute remixes to release with the leftovers. "Almost none of what I got back was anything like the remixes that I had originally conceived," says Jones. He was so impressed with the quality of the response that he decided to break it into three volumes. The final one came out yesterday.
"I guess I thought that most people would just take a few lines from one of my songs, throw some auto-tune and techno-beats underneath it and call it a remix, but that wasn't what I got back at all," says Jones. "The first version that was sent to me was Turvy Organ's cover of 'Parker St.,' and it blew me away. It wasn't like he was playing somebody else' music; it really felt like he had taken the song as his own, and frankly, it was a lot better than my original ever was."
The project was given the title Plastic Flower Anagrams, and you can download all three volumes for free on Thrifty Astronaut's Bandcamp. There is a huge array of bands represented here: Robin Walker, Pulled At 4 Pins, Tall City, Otem Rellik, the Rewards, Mother Brother, Galaxies, Astronymous, Emily Knight, the Discotays, Doubtful Sound, and the now-defunct Makeout Point.
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"In some of the songs, I can barely recognize the parts that I had originally written," says Jones. "Makeout Point, for example, took one of my songs and replaced the folky guitar part with post-punk noise chaos. Galaxies rewrote the first verse of one of my songs to be in French, and Robin Walker played my song in reverse. Tall City cut 'Boys Who Huff Glue' into a hundred little pieces and put them back on his computer to create a beat, then read new lyrics he had written over it."
Caffeine Heartache started out as a weird wonder of an album all on its own. Jones incorporates acoustic guitar, strange tunings, distortion, spacey electronics and his own deadpan voice to create something that is both strange and inviting. The creativity and work put into the remixes is a testament to the original. Not that Jones will take any credit.
"The truth is that what makes the Plastic Flower Anagrams work has very little to do with me," Jones concludes. "And if anything, it proves the ingenuity, adaptability and uniqueness of all the artists who each came away with a wildly different piece, even though they were all working from the same source material."