It’s been over a year since Porter Robinson came out of the gates with his Virtual Self alter ego. With releases “Eon Break” and “Ghost Voices,” fans were bemused and intrigued by the sound. The new aesthetic had roots in eurodance, speedcore, early hardcore, and trance. It was an ode to the old school techno sound inspired by late 90s-early 2000s dance music. But it also championed newer flavors of big room and indie dance.
“I tried to authentically incorporate IDM-y, jungly drum breaks, era-accurate trancy super saw sections, early hardcore and j-core elements, but all morphed into something that sounds kind of ‘big’ and thoroughly produced,” said Robinson in 2017.
More than an alias, Virtual Self embodies the third major phase in Robinson’s career, following 2016’s Shelter project with Madeon and 2014’s Worlds, a set that he may always be coming back to. Virtual Self is an identity — a static one at that — given how Robinson split Virtual Self into two digital personas: technic Angel and path selector. Kind of like how Damon Albarn is the artist behind the Gorillaz, but the cartoon characters are supposed to be the band.
Inspired by Robinson’s love of anime, technic angel is supposed to be the one who makes the happier, hardcore songs (e.g. “Particle Arts,” “Key,” and “Eon Break”) while path selector is behind the darker songs of Virtual Self’s catalogue (e.g. “Ghost Voices” and “a.i.ngel”).
Virtual Self’s first live performance debuted on December 8, 2017 in Brooklyn, followed by a surprise appearance on Holy Ship! 10.0 and first official headlining slot at the 2018 edition of BUKU Music + Arts Project. After a slew of festival appearances all summer, Virtual Self was poised for its first tour in 𝑈𝑇𝑂𝑃𝑖𝐴 𝑆𝑦𝑆𝑇𝐸𝑀. Now Robinson has been nominated for a Grammy for the project.
Along the way, just about every producer in dance music took their best stab at remixing Virtual Self’s hallmark track, Pathselector’s “Ghost Voices.” However, a few stood strong against the pack. To commemorate those artists, along with Virtual Self’s stellar year, we’ve gathered the top five “Ghost Voices” remixes released throughout the year.
1. Virtual Self – Ghost Voices (Shadient Edit)
UK producer Shadient makes the cut for his glitched-out rendering of Virtual Self’s “Ghost Voices,” which was released midway through the year. Shadient lays it on heavy with thunderous kicks and brilliantly-executed vocal chops — yet the song is still recognizably a Virtual Self track. He even edits Virtual Self’s whispery vocal sample to say “Shadient,” which is a nice artistic touch that makes the remix uniquely his own. For these reasons, Shadient rounds out our top five Virtual Self remixes of the year. He’s also good friends with Porter if you think back to the time when Robinson bought him a new laptop upon his old one giving out.
4. Virtual Self – Ghost Voices (Adventure Club Remix)
Coming off a more subdued year than we’re used to seeing from Christian Srigley and Leighton James, Adventure Club raised the bar for their remix of “Ghost Voices” last month. The treatment adds vibrant layers with drum kicks, electro synths, and energetic chiming chords at the song’s second drop — all the while preserving Virtual Self’s monumental synths and signature melody along the way. It’s a remix that definitively takes its seat at the table of Virtual Self remixes of the year.
3. Virtual Self – Ghost Voices (Raito Remix)
As the single’s only official remix, Virtual Self enlisted the help of French techno producer Raito to remix “Ghost Voices” early on. Lengthening the track to a full six minutes, Raito strips the track down to its minimalist part and injects his own driving backbeat along the way. It’s simple, subdued, and incredibly contagious, which is why it earns its stripes as an obvious contender for best Virtual Self remixes. He even delivered a shorter Old School Remix, with a completely different convergence of styles, if drawn out techno numbers aren’t your thing.
2. Virtual Self – Ghost Voices (ARTY live trance remix)
ARTY‘s unreleased version of “Ghost Voices” went viral at the start of the year when he dropped off a budding trance remix to the track during his ALPHA 9 set at Exchange LA. ARTY’s alias takes Virtual Self’s subtle trance progressions full force while leaving the song mostly unchanged. The remix will likely be dropped under ARTY’s ALPHA 9 alias, but while there is no release date in sight it will definitely hold its ground as one of the best Virtual Self remixes for years to come.
1. Virtual Self – Angel Voices (Ghost Voices/Technic Angel Remix)
Of course, it wouldn’t be right to place anyone but Porter Robinson at the top the list of Virtual Self remixers. When he released a Technic Angel remix of Pathselector’s “Ghost Voices” in late summer, he called it “Angel Voices” because it put a happier/hardcore style on the original recording. The highlight of the track comes when the final drop dips into violent hardcore techno terrain with extremely fast tempos, intense kicks, and industrial distortion.