In the pre-MP3 era (viz. the mid-90s), remixes of non-dance, non-hip-hop artists worked as follows.
1. The artist or their label would get somebody to do a remix. This was usually the Chemical Brothers, but occasionally the Aphex Twin or Fluke would get a go.
2. The remix would appear as the third track on the 2nd CD.
3. The fans would buy it. They might also play it.
4. Some would hate it and accuse the record labels of ripping them off with remixes rather than proper B-Sides.
5. Others would say it was really good, for dance music, but obviously not as good as the original track.
6. It would be entirely forgotten about.
One of the often unmentioned consequences of the rise of digital music is the changed role of the remix in indie culture. Now there are hundreds of remixes – it’s a cheap, sometimes effective way of providing exclusive content, extending a song’s lifespan, getting attention for another artist… and some of the remixes are even good! Remixes of rock or indie acts (Tidwell is not the former but seems to be sort of the latter – see below for why I’m vague on this) used to be fearsomely clunking things, as the remixers had no feel for the grains of songs they were cutting against, and the more they left in the grosser proceedings got. But the 00s have seen a lot of remixers who are happy to work within and around the song, stretching it, changing it, making it more lovely or thrilling without losing the beauty or kick it had anyway. For instance, the way Pearson layers the record gives me the same feeling of deepening, disorientating awe as standing in my back garden at night and looking long into the sky.
Another important point – this stuff isn’t just for the fans any more. I have never heard the original “Don’t Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up”. I am not sure I have ever heard any Cortney Tidwell: here she’s a guest vocalist on her own song. I heard this remix because Steve M, among many others, got excited about it, but it exists for me quite on its own terms, an object in digital space untethered from either of its creators. The implications of that are certainly not all good ones, but if it saves great remixes from C-side ignominy that’s one advantage at least.