Flume – Holdin On (Kaytranada Edit)

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.

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Miguel – Do You… (Cashmere Cat Remix)

Cashmere Cat

Though he’s something of a newcomer, Cashmere Cat  has to be one of my favorite electronic artists making music today. Hailing from Oslo, Norway he’s released  an E.P. and a single on Pelican Fly and remixes by the likes of 2 Chainz, Jeremih, and Feadz & Kito. Like many of the artists appearing on this blog, his music defies easy filing into bass music categories. Though much of his music might be heard in chiller trap mixes, some of his songs (such as Paws from his Mirror Maru E.P. ) are easily worked into a house or future garage sets.  All of these tunes are lush and inventively off-beat, without eschewing a smidgen of dance-ability. This R&B remix is no exception.

The Original:

Miguel’s original is a twee R&B affair in which Miguel asks a rhetorical question to his lovers (do you like drugs? Do you like hugs) and responds with a “Yeah? Well me too!“  He continues ask “What about?” other likeable things (Lust,Love, Midnight Summers, Matinee Movies), finally ending the song with some rather silly wordplay “I’m gonna do you like drugs tonight!” He sings these with a smooth falsetto over ambient, jangly guitar-chords until the Prince-esque  synths/drum machine combo gives the crowd a reason to move their booties. Overall it’s sugary pop, cotton candy R&B laced with a light dose of MDMA.

The Remix:

With his remix Cashmere Cat transmutes Miguel’s minimalist pop into maximalist bass music.  In the intro he keeps with the ambient mood of the original but sheds the all-too-alt-rock guitar chords and replaces them with a more lush arrangement: the sublime strumming of harps punctuated by claps and shakers, pulses of heart-beat bass and a lightly chopped and screwed version of Miguel’s vocals. As the intro approaches first drop CC gets us all hot and bothered for more bass by pitching Miguel’s voice all the way up to chipmunk over accelerated handclaps. At the drop he unleashes utter insanity, instigating anyone who has  an ass to shake it; these punching laser-synth basslines are dialed all the way to “pulverize.” These beats must have been produced in a psychedelic toyshop that used to be a trap house.  This is why I really love Cashmere Cat; his distinct sound happens in a place where the complex rhythm sections of U.S. hip-hop intersect with the more the more synth-centered, ecstasy-drenched experimentation of purple music from the U.K. (i.e. Rustie, Guido, Kito). All of this done with a sense of humor that makes the listening experience all more enjoyable; the first time I heard the “KITTY KITTY” vocal sample I cracked up. The remix ends its tour of a R&B cartoon-utopia with crazy synths, pitchfucked Miguel vocals, then woos us back to reality with a final serenade of harps. What a ride.

Not as Good, Better, or Just as Good: Cashmere Cat’s take is far Better than the Original. While Miguel’s track is a lightweight slice of poppy R&B, Cashmere Cat’s remix is one of the reasons I thinks he’s a heavyweight up-and-comer in bass music today. To (over)extend the earlier metaphor; While Miguel’s original song  swirls a lil bit of drugs in with some sweet stuff, and Cashmere’s remix builds a full-blown flying castle out of candy-flip sugarcubes.

Jeremih – Rated R (The Masterpiece) [Bear//Face Bootleg Edit]

BEAR//FACE

BEAR//FACE is Ciaran Mcdonald, a young producer (only 19 or 20) straight outta Belfast, North Ireland. Truly a producer of the internet age, much of his work is remixed tracks released on soundclound. His only non-remix work is the excellent “Beat_Tape” E.P. which features R&B deconstructed along the jagged lines of future beat artists like Shlohmo. The first track “Taste My Sad” is emblematic of McDonald’s approach to electronica; it features a chipmunked R&B sample played over effervescent synths, but with a raw buzzsaw bass that adds something darker to the mix. His other works include remixes of Ginuwine, James Blake, and J.T’s classic “My Love.”

The Original

The original track comes from Jeremih’s “Late Night” mixtape, with beats by pop-rap production duo The Futuristics. It begins with gorgeous key board samples played over 808 kicks; when he begins to sing the bass drops heavy and deep. Like many R&B tunes these days, the Futuristics take a slick but bare-bones approach to R&B. Cut-up samples of strings mingle pleasantly with off-kilter hi-hats while Jeremih coos the hook; some vague seductive lyrics to an unnamed lady, “Later on (we can get something poppin)/Rated R (oh baby girl he’s nothing)”. All in all it’s not too much different (and a bit less creative) than other major R&B tracks by Frank Ocean, the Weeknd, or Drake; there’s a bit too much empty space in the song, which I’d say Bear//Face successfully fills in with his bootleg version.

The Remix

Bear//Face transforms the typical spaced-out R&B tune into a soundtrack for a blast-off into outer space. The sparse rhythm of the original is mutated into a throbbing four-on the floor intro, building up tension until the snares and hi-hats come in. There’s something almost haunting about the bass tones Bear//Face uses in his songs, suggesting a more accessible take on the grit and grime of early dubstep pioneers like Burial and Flying Lotus. This bootleg continues to get weirder when samples of sloshing water, breaking glass, and an air-horns play as Jeremih sings the hook a second time. The original’s syncopated hi-hats work well with Bear//Face’s leftfield-leaning production style; he extends the rattling rhythms across even more of the song, making it seem like Jeremih’s voice no longer emanates from a human body but that of an android copy sinking beneath oceans of reverb. Unlike more aggressive trap a la Luminox or UZ you probably won’t hear this psychedelic take on hip-hop blasting out the soundsystem of some college bar or frat house; more likely you’d hear it while dancing in a dimly-lit warehouse or while taking a blunt ride through Babylon with your friends.

Better, Just as Good, Or Not as Good?

Though I enjoy the stripped down R&B style of Jerermih and his ilk, ima have to crown Bear//Face’s Bootleg Version as Better than the Original. Listening to the non-bootleg is is similar to drinking a cold glass of your everyday lager; it’s tame, refreshing and gives you a bit of a buzz. But the bootleg’s idiosyncratic production cranks it up to one of those 10% abv I.P.A.s; it ‘s got an interesting, intense flavor and will fuck with your brain a bit.

-L

One Ting Dub – French Fries’ remix of “One Thing” by Amerie

French Fries

Valentino Cazani a.k.a. French Fries is a dapper young man from Paris who started out with the “Arma” E.P. on the YoungGunz label, bringing the syncopated snares and tribal riddims of UK Funky to the European continent. Since his debut he’s released two great singles (“Yo Vogue” and “Space Alarm”) on the acclaimed bay-area-based Dirtybird and also started his own amazing label by the name of ClekClekBoom, releasing cuts from up-and-coming acts such as Bambounou, Chaos in the CBD, and Jean Nipon. Specializing in what he calls Underground House, he’s brought some of the most out-there futuristic house beats to the dancefloors across the globe.

The Original: “1 Thing” – Amerie

Of course Amerie’s original is a brilliant song in its own right. Rich Harrison, who also produced the Beyonce classic “Crazy In Love” samples a cut from funk band the Meter’s “Oh, Calcutta,” and his production marries Amerie’s vocal chops to a refreshing recap of a less-is-more elegance straight outta hip-hop’s funk-sampling golden age. The Go-Go inflected rhythms have been making people dance since the song originally dropped about eight years ago. It’s also made several critics lists for top songs of the 2000s; both Robert Christgau and Pitchfork have listed in among the top songs of the decade. So much has already been said of this song’s awesomeness. Let’s move to French Fries’ take on the classic.

The Remix

“One Ting Dub” is actually twice removed from the original, being a vocal-less dub of French Fries’ initial remix . Though both mixes are excellent, I prefer “One Ting Dub” because it truly turns the original on its head, from an energetic dance classic to a work of futuristic weirdness. The only vocals not erased in the dub are Amerie’s initial “Oh!” alternatively pitched up and down, and the warm funk samples are transformed into skittering snares, handclaps and a throbbing bass. The first half of the song plays a like an alien house tune, but around the two minute mark the production gets pushed into even stranger territory. The song’s second drop eschews conventional house beats, replacing them with a heavy dub bassline, a robotic rhythm section made of click and claps, and a well-timed reggae guitar hit, with FF’s signature “SHEEESH!” yelled over it for good measure. French Fries’ remix is an attempt to translate contemporary R&B for eavesdropping Martians by filtering it through Lee “Scratch” Perry’s soundsystem.

Better, Just as Good or Not as Good?

Amerie’s “One Thing” cannot be fucked with; it is a Stone Cold Classic. In most of these cases I would give French Fries’ remix the “Not as Good” rating; which means that though the remix is awesome in its own right it simply can’t hold up to the Stone Cold Classic original. However, in this rare instance I’ll make the provocative statement that French Fries’ remix is Just as Good as the original. FF’s version goes  far beyond the song’s original structure and brings us into strange new lands.Because of this, and though I know it’s blasphemy, I’ve listened to his version about twice as much as the original.

So there you have it; if you disagree with me I understand but in my mind these tracks both stand on their own as minor works of genius. In the next few years I think we’ll be hearing even more good stuff from rather fertile Parisian electronica scene, and French Fries is definitely one of the individuals leading the way in this innovative vision of music.

-L

Intro to Remix//Refix

Hi all! My name’s Luke, I’m a writer and DJ currently living in V.A.

The gist of this blog lies in the idea that many electronica artists today express  innovation through remixes, refixes, and bootlegs of songs; not just original releases. Remixing has been around since the birth of DJing itself, going back to the process of dubbing reggae records pioneered by mad geniuses from Jamaica like King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry. Because of this I think its important to look at how contemporary artists present their own takes on the works of other musicians.

Each post starts off with a youtube or soundcloud link to the featured remix of the day, and a short intro to the remixing artist. Then I write a bit about the original song, followed by a  longer bit about the remix. In the concluding section, I try to decide if the remix is Better Than, Just as Good, or Not as Good as the original.  The remixes under the “Better Than” category have improved on the original in interesting and exciting ways . When the two songs are Just as Good, they both stand their ground as different, but excellent works of art.

The Not as Good category is something of a special case. I only plan on featuring remixes that are worth hearing on this blog, so I don’t plan on posting certain  remixes just to piss on them. However, sometimes artists remix songs that I (and them too, probably)  would consider as a “Stone Cold Classics That Cannot Be Fucked With” (Stone Cold Classic or SCC for short).  For instance, at some point I’ll probably post a remix of Aaliyah/Timbaland’s “R U That Somebody” (there’s like a billion of good ones). Stating that a remix of this song (awesome as that remix may be) stands up to such a Stone Cold Classic could send me into a personal existential crisis or even cause angry riots among classic R&B lovers worldwide. Since I would like neither of these things to happen, sometimes I’ll have to concede that the remix just isn’t as good as the original mix, though said remix still should be considered a work of musical awesomeness in its own right.

So there you have it, the general layout of this Blog

Happy Listening & Reading!