Apr 23, 2003 at 12:00 am

It’s true, remix albums are often laughable bastardizations of original works designed to squeeze either life or maximum profit from the source material. Thing is, the source material in question here — Bay Area Gang of Four loyalists the Numbers’ full-length Life — offers plenty of room for improvement and reinvention. And the gang of electro-dance-glitch-avant-noise fringe-dwellers Tigerbeat 6 have assembled for this attack on Life are the kind of folks from which you’d be surprised to hear music that’s not surprising. Whew. Got that?

Gold Chains, Kid 606, Kit Clayton, GD Luxxe and Zeigenbock Kopf are just a few of the names that jump off the page.

So here’s the deal: Life was a just-better-than-average reimagining of 1979 new/no-wave consumed by a familiar, alternately near-feral/utterly detached tint of anti-consumerism in a postindustrial age. As a straight document, Life left little to be desired. But the gathered sonic-fucker-uppers contained here breathe new life into death (or the other way around if you prefer). Ugh.

There’s pantloads of sonic surprises to discover on Death. Gold Chains opens it up with his take on “Prison Life.” After a hilariously spaced-out cut-and-paste sound skit between producer and band — he rocks the jam like he’s trying to create the best Front 242/KMFDM song never recorded.

Elsewhere, producer GD Luxxe — whom you might recognize from Ersatz Audio’s Forgotten Sounds of Tomorrow comp — turns in a kick-ass (in a cold, detached way, you understand) mugging of “Prison Life” that illuminates the spectrum of possibilities the Numbers’ originals offer the nimble-minded remixer. Dynamaxion’s take on “What is the Product” brings the Speak ’n’ Spell vocals up front and center for funky effect and Kit Clayton’s “Faster Than Sound” remix of “Information” swings an appropriately heavy hammer of frantic beats over drummer/ vocalist Indra Duris’ rapid-fire mantra chorus “I don’t want your information/ I don’t need your informaiton/ I won’t take your information/ Fuck you and your information.”

Over the past week, I must have listened to this record a dozen times and it kept sounding increasingly like the perfect sound track to my ongoing battle to avoid CNN and the ubiquitous news ticker that scrolls across the bottom of the TV screens. The racket found in these grooves is like the antibiotic that uses a little of the virus to kick your immune system into overdrive and beat holy hell out of your infection. And for that, the Numbers and their gang of sonic no-goodnik pals should get a fuckin’ medal.

E-mail Chris Handyside at [email protected].