Category: remixes

Hymns To The Night, the attention-grabbing full-length debut from post-punk duo Lea Porcelain was written and recorded over a two year period in Berlin, Germany‘s famed Funkhaus, a broadcast house created under Soviet supervision that now houses one of the world’s biggest recording studios. Interestingly enough, while the duo describes their sound as being “atmospheric, cinematic and melancholic,” the material on their debut reportedly finds the band subtly bending and playing with genre boundaries; however, album single “Warsaw Street” manages to be a decidedly post-punk single, nodding at Turn On The Bright Lights and Antics-era Interpol.

Recently, the acclaimed British DJ, producer and owner of Hotflush Recordings Paul Rose, best known as Scuba remixed the song adding thumping beats, clave and layers of undulating synths and a dance floor-friendly motorik-like groove and although he retains some of the original’s atmospheric vibe, the remix manages to focus primarily on mood and groove, creating an altogether new song with a completely different feel.

 

 

 

It’s been 11 years since J. Dilla‘s tragic and untimely death due to complications from Lupus and over that period of time, the prolific, Detroit-born producer and beatmaker’s reputation has grown — to the point that he has become arguably one of hip-hop’s most beloved and influential artists and producers; in fact, much of his work possesses a timelessness and vitality that few contemporary producers of any genre can manage. Interestingly enough, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the prolific Detroit-born producer and beatmaker’s untimely passing, his emcee debut The Diary was posthumously released, although it was released with quite a bit of controversy surrounding it. Dilla died before he could finish the album and much of the material was unfinished, leaving producers the unenviable task of piecing and stitching together incomplete ideas and filling in musical gaps in a way that would hew as closely as possible to its creator’s original intentions and ambitions. Naturally, in the event of an artist dying as they were finishing their work, it leaves questions about the nature of art, its creation,  whether an outside editor or a producer can really flesh out the original creator’s ideas in a fashion that they would appreciate, whether its ethical to mine a deceased creator’s incomplete works to make money for the creator’s survivors or for their estate and countless others. In fact, it should be unsurprising that Dilla’s surviving family and the executors publicly battled over every aspect of the posthumously released The Diary; nor should it be surprising that J. Dilla’s mother, Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, who has worked tirelessly to further her son’s legacy while being incredibly protective over it.

Mrs. Yancey was instrumental in the release of Motor City, a new collection of rare and unreleased Dilla instrumentals inspired by the producer’s hometown. Conceived as a letter to her son and originally released this for this year’s Record Store Day, the vinyl release quickly sold out; however, the vinyl has been re-pressed in limited quantities and is available for purchase for purchase at Dillatronic while supplies last. But it also marks the long-awaited digital release of the album. And to celebrate both occasions, Mrs. Yancey released “Motor City J Rocc Blend #4,” an exclusive promotional mix by Dilla’s close friend and equally renowned DJ and producer J. Rocc, which features one of Motor City‘s previously unreleased instrumental tracks.

J. Rocc’s mix is an inventive and boldly vivid take on J. Dilla’s production that builds upon Dilla’s souful production in a swaggering yet organic fashion as the production features a looped string section paired with tweeter and woofer rocking beats, some DJ scratching and a sinuous bass line paired with some incredibly fiery spitting from Common.

 

 

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about Gabriel Garzón-Montano, a critically applauded Brooklyn-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has seen a rapidly growing national and international profile for a genre-defying take on contemporary soul and pop, as his work draws from Bach, cumbia, 70s funk and soul and the wildly, adventurous sort of multiculturalism familiar to native New Yorkers. And as Garzón-Montano has publicly mentioned, his mother, who was a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble in the 1990s may arguably be one of the biggest influences on his work and his creative process as her rigorous, classical instruction and her painstaking attention to detail, have greatly influenced him and his own creative endeavors.

Now, as you may recall, Garzón-Montano’s long-awaited full-length effort Jardín was released earlier this year and it comes on the heels of a three year period of rather intense touring, writing, revising and recording that interestingly enough began with his 2014 debut EP Bishouné: Alma del Hula, which caught the attention of Lenny Kravitz, who then invited the Brooklyn-born-and-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter to open for him during his European tour that year. Adding to the growing attention around him, Garzón-Montano’s “6 8” was sampled on Drake‘s If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, which led to tours with Glass Animals and with his renowned Stones Throw Records labelmate JOVM mainstay and personal favorite, Mayer Hawthorne.

Jardín was recorded with his mentor, analog recording guru Henry Hirsch at Waterfront Studios in Hudson, NY last year and during the recording sessions Garzón-Montano tracked drums, bass, guitar, piano and synths directly to 2-inch tape, and then added percussion, digital programming and several layers of his own vocals to create the album’s overall lush sound — a sound that reportedly nods at Stevie Wonder’Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. “I wanted to make music that would remind people how beautiful life is – how delicate their hearts are. A garden is full of life, and growth, and beauty. I named the album Jardín hoping for it to create a space for healing when people put it on. I’ve always wanted to make music that is healing, comforting, and funky,” Garzón-Montano explained in press notes. Naturally,  our current sociopolitical climate has influenced a great deal of the material on the album, as thematically it focuses on the struggles and uncertainties of living in America but it’s balanced our by its equal focus on the complications and joys of love.

Of course, I’ve written about a couple of singles off the album, including “Crawl,” a single which effortlessly meshed hip-hop, 90s neo-soul and contemporary pop with a slick production featuring ambient synths, twinkling keys, a wobbling bass line, tweeter and woofer rattling beats and a sharp, swaggering hook; and “My Balloon,” a single that continued on a similar vein while tinged with the aching regret of a confusing and uncertain relationship with someone who isn’t quite on the same emotional or mental space as you are. And although the song’s narrator seems to proudly suggest that he’ll be glad to move on his with life, there’s a sense that it’s nothing more than wounded pride, and underneath that, he’s aware of the fact that he’ll have to live with the lingering ghosts of what could have been and what should have been with this particular person.

“Sour Mango,” Jardin‘s latest single is slow-burning, swaggering and soulful track which features Garzón-Montano’s sultry vocals over a jagged production featuring shuffling beats, twinkling keys, wobbling synths; but just underneath the surface, there’s a vulnerability and ache over a love that would be unlikely; love after all, doesn’t make much sense and it frequently hurts more time than anyone would care to admit.  Recently Seven Davis, Jr. remixed “Sour Mango” and while retaining some elements of the jagged production, there’s a greater emphasis on hot bursts of keys,  some reverb on Garzón-Montano’s vocals and a subtle atmospheric vibe. And while still being a swaggering yet slow-burning song, Seven Days, Jr.’s remix is a subtle yet noticeable take on the song that purposely retains the song’s nuanced emotion.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this over the past few years, you’ve come across several posts featuring JOVM mainstay artist Rhythm Scholar, who has developed a reputation for being both incredibly prolific and for a series of genre-mashing remixes stuffed to the gills with both obscure and recognizable samples that are reminiscent of  Paul’s Boutique-era Beastie Boys and Girl Talk. He’s also developed reputation for releasing a series of more straightforward and traditional-leaning remixes, including a breezy and jazzy remix of A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?” consisting of cascading organs, strummed guitar, double bass, warm blasts of funky horn and swirling electronics and a breezy, lounge funk/lounge jazz leaning remix of Tribe’s “Bonita Applebum.” 

Rhythm Scholar returns with a remix of DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s 1991 smash-hit “Summertime” and while retaining Will Smith‘s cool delivery and the song’s overall nostalgia-tinged Roy Ayers-like vibe the remix adds bits and snippets of samples from Kool and The Gang, Dexter Wansel, James Brown, Dave Grusin, The Eagles and a few other hidden gems, including some soulfully meandering keys and boom-bap beats.

 

 

If you had been frequenting this site over the past three years or so, you would have come across a handful of posts on the Austin TX/Houston, TX-based electro pop act  Night Drive. Comprised of primary songwriting and production duo Rodney Connell and Bradley Duhon, the Texan electro pop act can trace their origins to some rather unusual, soap opera-like yet very true circumstances — they met and bonded after they had discovered that the woman that they had both unwittingly been dating at the same time died in a tragic car accident. Since the project’s formation, the duo has received attention both on this site and elsewhere for a moody, slickly produced New Wave and synth pop sound that draws from Joy DivisionCut CopyBrian Enothe Knifethe DrumsLCD SoundsystemDepeche Mode and others. However, interestingly enough, the duo’s propulsive synth pop single “Rise and Fall” manages to sound as though it were inspired by A Flock of Seagulls “I Ran (So Far Away)” and Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” while thematically the song focuses on a the slow dissolution of a relationship in which the song’s narrator knows that the end is inevitable and coming soon — and yet, there’s the realization that walking away from a relationship is difficult, even when it’s absolutely necessary; in fact, you can sense the narrator’s deep seated fears of what his life would be like, if the relationship ends. And thanks to an aching and rousing hook, the song manages to be a break up anthem that should feel intimately and uncomfortably familiar.

Recently, the renowned Los Angeles-based production and DJ duo Classixx remixed the song, turning the moody, synth-based torch song into a breezy, funky, summery, club banger along the lines of Tuxedo, Dam-Funk, 7 Days of Funk and others, as the duo pairs the original vocal track with twinkling electric piano, a sinuous bass line and thumping beats — and as a result, the heartbreak at the core of the song is reduced to the dull throb of having time pass by. As Connell and Duhon explained to the folks at Billboard “Classixx reinterprets the song through the lens of that same person reminiscing about the incident many years later while chilling on a beach and sipping a martini. Sure it was sad and heartbreaking, but it’s hard to stay sad while in the Cayman Islands.”

As Classixx’s Michael David and Tyler Blake explained to Billboard, their remix of Night Drive’s “Rise and Fall” involved them pulling out electric piano and bass and recording one long take jamming over the vocal track. “We were feeling the groove and liked some of the imperfections, so we left them in. Our initial pass was more abstract, but the band [Night Drive] helped us bring it back a little closer to the original material. It was a pretty collaborative effort through email. I like how it still sounds a little rough around the edges though. Sometimes that’s where the charm lies,” the duo’s Tyler Blake added in an emailed statement to Billboard.

 

 

 

Over the course of the past couple of years, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts on the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstay post-punk act The Harrow. Deriving their name from a name of a device used to punish and torture prisoners in the Franz Kafka short story “In the Penal Colony,” the band can trace a portion of their origins back to 2008 when its founding member Frank Deserto (bass, synths and electronics) started it as a solo recording project that expanded into a full band in 2013 when Deserto recruited Vanessa Irena (vocals, synths and programming), Barrett Hiatt (synth, programming), and Greg Fasolino (guitar) to flesh out the project’s sound. As a quartet, the Brooklyn-based act released the “Mouth to Mouth”/”Ringing the Changes” 7 inch and their full-length effort Silhouettes to critical praise across the blogosphere including The Deli MagazineThe Big TakeoverImposeAltSounds as well as this site for a sound that is deeply indebted to The CureSiouxsie and the BansheesJoy Division, and others —  although with Silhouette, the material, which was mixed by friend and frequent collaborator, Automelodi’s Xavier Paradis revealed a band that had been subtly experimenting with and expanding upon their sound, as their sound took on a bit of an industrial feel, as though nodding at Depeche Mode and New Order.

Up until relatively recently, some time had passed since I had written about them; however, in the last few weeks, the band announced that they will be releasing a remix album Points of View, which would be comprised of remixes, re-workings and re-imaginings of the material off Silhouettes by various friends, collaborators and associates as part of a “living” album that will grow as they receive additional contributions to the album.  And fittingly, the album’s first single was Xavier Paradis’ propulsive, dance floor-friendly remix of “Kaleidoscope” in which industrial clang and clatter and tweeter and woofer rocking beats are paired with the original’s shimmering guitars and Irena’s ethereal vocals — and as a result, the remix retained the spirit and mood of the original, while being a subtle new take.

Interestingly enough, if you had been following the site since the early days, you may recall that I wrote about the Brooklyn-based synth pop duo Azar Swan. Comprised of singer/songwriter Zohra Atash, who was a touring vocalist with A Storm of Light and multi-instrumentalist and producer Joshua Strawn, who was a member of Blacklist, Vaura, Vain Warr and others, the duo’s current project can trace its origins to when Atash and Strawn ended their previous project Religious to Damn in 2012. And much like it, The Harrow it had been some time since I had written about them — that is until now, as the duo remixed The Harrow’s “Secret Language,” giving an already stark minimalist song an even moodier, retro-futuristic John Carpenter soundtrack vibe.

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few years, you’ve likely come across Brooklyn-based indie dance pop act Body Language. Currently comprised of founding members Matthew Young and Grant Wheeler, along with Ian Chang and vocalist Angelica Bess, the Brooklyn-based act can trace its origins to when its founding duo had began crafting their own mixes and relies at a weekly party they curated and DJ’d while they were both living in Hartford, CT. And as the story goes, shortly after they had started their party, they met and recruited Angelica Bees, with whom they began writing their own original material, material that wound up comprising their debut effort Speaks. 

Interestingly, once the trio of Young, Wheeler and Bees began working on their sophomore EP Social Studies, they had hooked up with Theophilus London on an album — and during those sessions, they met the band’s fourth member Ian Chang who contributes to the band’s latest effort, 2016’s Mythos.  Now, if you had stumbled across JOVM during the course of last year, you might have come across a post on “Addicted,” the first single off Mythos — and the single revealed that the quartet went through a subtle change of sonic direction as the single found the act drawing from New Jack Swing and classic house.

Recently, the Brooklyn-based dance act shared Mythos‘ closing track, “Free,” a sensual and shimmering, classic house-inspired track featuring arpeggio synths, Bees’ sultry vocals a chopped up vocal sample and propulsive drum programming to create a song that sounds as though it drew influence from Crystal Waters‘ house music classic “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless).” But along with “Free,” the dance pop act released previously unreleased remixes of “Free” by Wrestlers and the album’s lead single “Addicted,” by Memoryy.

The Wrestlers remix of “Free,” begins with an introduction reminiscent of the introduction of Chaka Khan and Rufus‘ “Ain’t Nobody” before pairing Bees’ sultry vocals with a slick production that balances a retro-futuristic vibe with hyper contemporary recording techniques as it featuring wobbling and distorted arpeggio synths and chopped up vocal sample — and while still retaining the dance floor vibe of the original, the remix manages to push the song in a contemporary direction.

Closing out the singles package is Memoryy’s remix of “Addicted” pushes the song towards goth and industrial-leaning electronica  as tense and wobbling, arpeggio synths are paired with cowbell-led percussion and tweeter and woofer rocking beats. And in some way the remix manages to put an accessible spin on an industrial-like production, retaining the dance floor-friendliness and infectious hooks of the original.

Comprised of Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Seude, the Bronx-based hip-hop duo Camp Lo is best known for their smash hit “Luchini (A.K.A This Is It)” off their critically applauded debut effort, Uptown Saturday Night, which was released 20 years ago yesterday.  Interestingly, renowned Nigerian-born, Montreal-based producer and artist Teck-Zilla, a JOVM mainstay, who has released a number of critically applauded EPs and mixtapes recently paid homage to the album and standout track “Sparkle” with a hazy and jazzy remix, which features horn blast and 808-like boom-bap beats that manages to retain the original’s swaggering soulfulness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although he’s known as a co-founder of renowned, old school hip-hop act, Ultramagnetic MCs and for a lengthy  solo career, in which he has taken up a number of aliases and personas while perfecting and expanding upon an imitable flow full of surrealistic and fantastic tangents, grim and nightmarishly violent imagery and pop cultural references — namely comic books and cartoons, Kool Keith  may arguably be one of hip-hop’s most uncompromisingly weird and challenging artists. And interestingly enough 2016 may have also been one of the biggest years for The Bronx-based emcee, as the long-lost full-length effort Pimp to Eat from his collaborative project Analog Brothers with Ice-T, Pimp Rex, Marc Live and Black Silver was released earlier this year, along with his latest solo effort Future Magnetic, which had the incredibly prolific emcee collaborating with Ras KassAtmosphere’s Slug, MF Doom and Dirt Nasty.

In fact, last year, I wrote about “World Wide Lamper,” a single consisted of a menacingly sparse and hypnotic production featuring winkling synths and subtle yet propulsive drum programming paired with Kool Keith, B.A.R.S. Murre and Dirt Nasty trading braggadocio-filled bars full of insane punchlines that make references to pop culture, the profane, the grisly violent and the surreal. That single was quickly  “Super Hero,”a single that pairs a production consisting of wobbling and undulating synths, stuttering drum programming and looped chiming cymbals around a wildly infectious hook with two renowned emcees trading verses full of super-heroes, villains and anti-heroes maneuvering through a comic book-styled universe.

L’Orange an up-and-coming, Nashville, TN-based producer, who collaborated with Mr. Lif on his The Life & Death Of Scenery, released a free EP Koala and is about to go our on tour with Wax Tailor, and in his free time, the up-and-coming producer remixed Kool Keith’s and MF Doom’s “Super Hero.” And with the L’Orange remix, the Tennessean producer pairs two of hip-hop’s most acclaimed emcees ridiculous rhyme schemes with classic, super hero/comic book dialogue and a production featuring twinkling keys, some old-timey clang and clatter, a distorted old school-leaning blues vocal sample, and tweeter and woofer rattling 808-like beats  – while retaining the song’s hook. And in some way, the L’Orange remix manages to boldly and mischievously evoke film noirs, with an insane yet impeccably done ballroom caper — and you can probably picture the heroes (or shall I say, anti-heroes, in this case) narrowly yet confidently escaping capture.

 

 

 

New Video: The Psychedelic and Sensual Visuals for Dubmatrix’s Chilled Out Remix of Charleston Okafor’s “Rama Rama”

Born in Ogidi, a small village in Eastern Nigeria, as the youngest of 10 sons in a traditional Igbo family, Charleston Okafor moved to the US in 1985 with the intention of becoming a doctor and enrolled as a pre-med student at Western Kentucky University — although he had long dreamt of pursuing a musical career. In fact, some of his earliest memories involved longing to be involved in the traditional church naming and death ceremonies that his mother, Christina Akuadi Okafor led as a musical director of the woman’s acapella church group. As Okafor fondly recounts in press notes “As was the case in those days, and still is with the youths in my village today, young boys like me longed for the days when we could participate in our own masquerade or nkpokiti dance groups.”

While studying at Western Kentucky University, Okafor had two experiences that altered the course of his adult life — he discovered MTV and began two, deeply influential and lifelong musical friendships with bassist Bryan House, who has worked with Robert Plant’s backing band Band of Joy, Emmylou Harris, Sam Bush and Dolly Parton and engineer Bill Bitner, the first engineer to work with Okafor. The Nigerian-born singer/songwriter’s friendships with House and Bitner helped him begin his pursuit of a musical career — and interestingly enough paved the road for Okafor to eventually collaborate with renowned producers like Ticlah, who has worked with Easy Star All-Stars, Antibalas and Amy Winehouse and DJ Spooky, both of whom have also remixed some of Okafor’s work.

Some 11 years after moving to the States, Okafar began his musical career in earnest as the frontperson and musical director of the Cleveland, OH-based collective Asante Groove, a project that featured a rotating cast of friends and collaborators that received attention locally and regionally for a sound that possessed elements of dancehall reggae and smooth jazz. He’s also received attention for his WCSB radio program African Abstract, which started in 1992 and is one of Cleveland’s longest running radio shows, as well as a staple of WCSB’s Sunday afternoon programming. Interestingly, Asante Groove along with Okafor’s current backing band Hybrid Shakedown have opened for many of the acts he’s played on his radio program including The Meditations, Chaka Demus and Pliers, Black Uhuru’s Michael Rose, Oliver Mtukudzi and others. Oh and I must add that Okafor is also a high-school math teacher, which may arguably make him both the coolest math teacher you’ve ever heard of, as well as an extremely busy man.

Adding to the Nigerian-born, Cleveland-based singer/songwriter’s unusual background and career trajectory, instead of going about the prototypical music industry route of following a release of original material with a remix album, he recently released the remix EP in advance of his second album America, an album that thematically focuses on power and oppression, love and partnership while looking at his adopted homeland with a sense of promise and hope — even in light of one of the bitterest and most divisive election cycles in recent memory.

For the remix album, Okafor turned to some old friends — Dub Trio founder Joe Tomino, who Okafar has known since the late 90s; Dubmatrix, who Okafor has long supported on his radio show and was a dear friend of Okafor’s producer Ecodek; and Ray Lugo and Kokolo Afrobeat Orchestra’s Jake Fader, who recently started their own project together Los Terrificos. The album’s first single is Dubmatrix’s skittering and subtly psychedelic yet dance-floor friendly remix of “Rama Rama.”

The recently released music video for the Dubmatrix remix manages to be both psychedelic and flirtatious — all while capturing the infectious joy that Okafor seems to spread far and wide. Lord knows, in this world, we definitely need it.