Such is the paranoia surrounding the Linkin Park summer holiday (or ‘remix’) album and the threat of internet piracy, that in order to review the 20-track mutha, NME is required to scoot off to the band’s label for a listening session. Not an unusual demand these days, but this is for a remix album, a project invented specifically for die-hard fans who by definition will buy it anyway, regardless of whether they already have it on MP3.
WEA are either flexing their muscles or they’re a little concerned about the transience of the Linkin Park fanbase. Hence, perhaps, the fact that at its heart – in the sense that a project like this can be said to have one – ‘Reanimation’ puts hybrid theory into practice, and goes straight for the hip-hop heads. This, you see, is why ‘Reanimation’ apparently “defies the creative borders imposed by today’s commercial culture”. Because remember, hip-hop and nu-metal are so terribly marginalised these days.
When it works, the results are astounding. Jay Gordon’s turn on ‘PTS.OF.Athrty’ is so NERDish that it actually sounds like their current single, ‘Rock Star’, while ‘BY_MYSLF’ is a heaving slab of industrial power with fucked-up vocals, blazing drum machines and insane screeching as it grinds to a spectacular halt. ‘H! VLTAG3’, meanwhile, is a beat-driven hip-hop thumper with a load of Dre-style piano plinks, courtesy of Evidence and Pharaohe Monch. But what of these song titles? They’re MODERN! So modern is ‘Reanimation’ that one hip-hop convention (the trusty voicemail message interlude) is turned right on its head, when Mike Linkin Park phones his own mobile, enters his PIN code, and checks his messages ‘remotely’. Welcome to the FUTURE!
As the album whizzes by, the songs begin to blur (‘P5HNG ME A*WY’ – it’s Linkin Park with some ‘beats’ and scratching! ‘WITH>YOU’ – it’s Linkin Park with some ‘beats’ and scratching! ‘1STP KLOSR’ – it’s… and so on) but this is, at the end of the day, Linkin Park. And as for that much sought-after hip-hop audience? Well, if WEA want to win them over they’ll need to let them hear ‘Reanimation’ first – and when they do, the chances are that bits of it’ll do the trick. But not everyone will buy something just because the name ‘Linkin Park’ on the sleeve means they have to.