News First Listen: Error Operator - The Weeknd - Gone RWK

‘Shifting the focus from the vocals to what’s going on around them’

If there’s one artist who has lit up the blogosphere like absolutely nothing else this year, it’s Abel Tesfaye.’Who?,’ I hear you ask, and with good reason, considering he’s much more well-known as The Weeknd. He’s releasing a trilogy of mixtapes this year, and two of these have been rapturously received - again, with good reason. He’s making quite a name for himself, which is why an artist like Error Operator being offered the chance to remix one of his songs is kind of a big deal.

The song in question is the centrepiece of the recently-released ‘Thursday’: the sprawling, eight-minute ‘Gone’. To call the Error Operator re-work (or indeed, the ‘RWK’, as he’s calling it) better than its source material would be a lofty statement. While not exactly better, it’s easily just as good, and depending on the kind of day you’re having when you listen to this, you might even prefer it to the original at times - right now, I do.

The remix could have slotted in rather comfortably on Error Operator’s debut album ‘Mistakes’ last year. It’s cut from mostly the same cloth as the bulk of that album: equally as contemplative and atmospheric. In the original ‘Gone’, the focus was on the Auto-Tuned vocals and, of course, the stunning drop that arrived four-and-a-half minutes in. It was the kind of song you just knew could be approached from various different angles, and the approach that’s been taken on the remix makes perfect sense.

The ‘RWK’ completely discards the second part of the song, trimming it to just barely over half its original length, shifting the focus from the vocals to what’s going on around them. Vocal samples pan from left to right, intensifying the dreamlike atmosphere that was already present. The basic beat gets a makeover as well, with Error Operator instead choosing to make things considerably more interesting in the rhythm department, something that adds a new dimension to the song.

The core ingredient of the song remains unchanged, however; the wistful, melancholic feel has been retained and, if anything, amplified. This kind of atmosphere is central to Error Operator’s music as well; in light of this, it would be quite interesting to see Tesfaye return the favour - or even a collaboration between the two! - because the two artists make an excellent match. I live in hope.

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