Deftones had a banner year in 2020, dropping their impeccable Ohms (Reprise Records, review here) and celebrating the 20th anniversary of arguably their best album, White Pony. Unbeknownst to fans, and music journos, there is an entire secret history of White Pony the band revealed this year. For years we had been hearing that the band was interested in a remix album, either of an entire past release or perhaps a new album. It turns out, the band always intended White Pony to have a companion album or EP of remixes, called Black Stallion. Among the fanbase, this potential release lived in the lore of their minds, as much or more than the Eros sessions we may, or may not ever see the light of day (and we understand why guys). Now the band has capped off their year with the fleshed out and realized Black Stallion release (also Reprise).
Listening to both White Pony and then its new companion in an A-B experience is highly recommended. Even though I have listened to White Pony tons of times it was cool to hear it again, followed by these new versions. Also, the band never said definitively that Black Stallion was going to be a full album, so I wasn’t fully prepared for 11 new takes on the old jams until I checked out the promo for this review. Also, unlike a lot of bands, the members of Deftones are not casual heads in this scene, they are deep lovers of electronic music of all stripes. Chino Moreno, Frank Delgado (duh), and Sergio Vega in particular have roots in the scene and sweet skills themselves as DJs and remixers. Thus, this album is a truly collaborative effort; with an All-star cast of peers and legends including Robert Smith of The Cure, DJ Shadow, Mike Shinoda, Clams Casino, Phantogram, Tourist, they choose partners in mind from artists they admire and respect, but also those who would take the music in new directions.
If you are not familiar with the history of poppy “Back To School (Mini Maggot),” I’ll spare you the indignity now, but you can look it up here. So the album begins “Feiticeira” is an interesting table-setter for the album, in brief, and a great way to scramble your expectations. It’s over pretty quick and I would have liked to hear a longer take on it. “Digital Bath” is a pretty chill experience, to begin with and has a new life here as done by DJ Shadow. “Elite”, done by Blanck Mass, might be the best track herein. Each song gets cast in a new Major Deftones influence Robert Smith gets to work his magic on “Teenager.” “Purity Ring” reconfigures “Knife Prty” into a trip-hop type outtake to the Tron Legacy soundtrack.
While a lot of people will naturally be attracted to the sexy sparseness of Mike Shinoda’s “Passenger”, replete with Maynard James Keenan of (Tool, Puscifer, a perfect circle) and his most naked vocals ever, still, you wonder why MJK or one of his Puscifer pals aren’t present here as a remixer. However, it’s “Korea” by Trevor Jackson that is the showstopper of the later tracks. The album closes with a ten-plus minute drone on “Pink Maggit” by Squarepusher that is sublime. It’s cool to see the Deftones get their wish come true twenty years later and end this year on this heavy, and not heavy note.
Buy the album here: http://deftones.lnk.to/WPBS20
8 / 10