Kaytranada is an new DJ hailing from Canada. He’s released a series of awesome remixes in the past year or so, including a remix of Janet Jackson’s “If” that definitely deserves a listen by all readers. He’s got a great laid back house style, and an idiosyncratic but enjoyable way of putting a set together, as evidenced by his recent recording from the Boiler Room. At that show he plays everything from the song covered here to soul to Madlib to Missy Elliot, all of whose influences come through in his remixing style.
Flume (also known as Harley Streten) is rightly well-appreciated by the electronica-listening public; this track is one of the highlights off of his self-titled album released earlier this year. “Holdin On” begins with keyboard stabs that bring to mind the dissonant harmony of Boards of Canada or even “Everything in Its Right Place.” Then samples of Anthony White’s “Can’t Turn You Loose,” play over raw-power synths along with underwater kicks and snares fit for a J Dilla beat. After this the song returns to more wavering chords, balancing pop appeal with a dash of IDM-influenced weirdness. This is one of Flume’s greatest talents: his ability to mix the warm fullness of R&B with the cool intensity of computer-music machinery.
It makes sense that Kaytranada remixed this song, given his obsession with neo-soul and Madlib. He transfers the song’s future-R&B stylings nicely onto a four-on-the-floor house groove, mixing things up in the intro with handclaps that might be heard in a Nicolas Jaar track. Also new is a high pitched synth line that leads us into Kay’s take on the 70s soul sample. Then we get a prime example of Kaytranada’s bass-wave sound; this producer has a well-known talent for creating some monstrous bass lines. In this context it sounds as if Kay hijacked a spacecraft from George Clinton’s fleet and re-wired it for the digital era.
Just as Good, Better or Not as Good: These songs are just as good as each other; the original is a tour-de-force of soul-infused future beat music, and the remix is different enough from the original to warrant me to consider it an excellent piece of music in its own right.