The remix is a time-honored dance music tradition, nearly as important as original productions themselves. Got a great track? Chances are on the other side of that vinyl is a remix. Whether it be simply adding a bit of bass to give a track a bit more dance floor oomph, recasting something into a different genre or leaving most of the original on the cutting-room floor in favor of a more radical vision, the following producers all have one thing in common: Their reversionings all bear their personal stamp in some form or another.
That stamp ranges from the thicketed tribal minimal of Luciano to the broken-hearted dubstep of Martyn, but this year's winner—in a neat bit of synchronicity—is none other than the man who was remixed by last year's poll winner. With more than 380 remixes ticked by our far-flung contributors in this year's poll, we're as surprised as anyone.
15. Dave Aju - Crazy Place (Luciano «Likuid» Remix) [Circus Company]
"Veering 180 degrees from Aju's spacious, laid-back original, Luciano's 'Likuid' mix opens with a cut-up voice and percussion wig-out before submitting to a murderous bass thump that drives the track. Layers of his trademark percussion keep things moving along until 5:30, when a hammering synth riff is introduced and, by the time the jazzy keyboard solo hits a few minutes later, I had to check my pants for wetness."
-- Todd Hutlock
14. Shackleton - Death Is Not Final (T++ Remix) [Skull Disco]
"Whereas Sam Shackleton's original cut was like dubstep's Tibetan Book of the Dead, Monolake member T++ sets sail for more Stygian domains with his Necronomicon-like remix. The flickering snares suggest panic, whereas the fractured rhythms weigh heavily over the still, black drones like Charon's oars beating on the waters of Hades, as the cavernous ebbs and flows seem to take over your ears and soul."
-- Chris Mann
13. Sety - Mogane (Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts Remix) [Circus Company]
"Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts take on 'Mogane' is a radical one, totally gutting the original and creating a boompty bouncer that owes as much to early acid house as it does to modern techno music. A pumping Chicago bassline grooves along to deep stabbing synths and hat-heavy percussion, and is sure to find favour with DJs straddling the line between deep house and more jacking fare."
-- Richard Carnes
12. Vladislav Delay - Recovery IDea (Andy Stott Remix) [Semantica]
"Modern Love's Andy Stott distils the thick atmosphere of Delay's original with his trademark metallic reductions and hi-hat/kick propulsion, and with a super smooth bassline adds swing and funk. The dark washes of the original now sit behind a sharp foreground that's dance floor friendly yet still deep and detailed enough for headphones. A wonderful combination of two very different, but complementary sound palettes."
-- Janet Leyton-Grant
11. Radio Slave - Grindhouse (Dubfire Terror Planet Remix) [Rekids]
"A desolate vision of armour-clad fiends marching across a techno landscape of relentless snares, hissing fissures of steam and acid-burn synths. An apocalyptic siren signifies the true beginning of the track and potentially the end of the world, while Danton Eeprom's ominous vocal creates an unassailable sense of impending metallic doom. Immense, formidable and not for the faint of heart."
-- Greg Sawyer
10. Kevin Saunderson feat. Inner City - Good Love (Luciano Remix) [KMS]
"Luciano's take on Inner City's 'Good Love' works Paris Grey's vocals in layers over a stripped down groove that sizzles along over a lightly acidic one-note riff and chattering Cadenza-style percussion. Neatly summarizing Luciano's recent turn toward deeper house sounds, 'Good Love' fuses Saunderson's soulful techno with the Chilean School of Minimalism for one of the highlights of 2008, as well as the History Elevate series."
-- Todd Hutlock
09. Ane Brun - Headphone Silence
(Henrik Schwarz Remix / Dixon Edit) [Objektivity]
"Brun's vocals are delicate—seemingly ready to wither away as soon as they emerge from her mouth. Innervisions label head Dixon takes advantage in his edit of Schwarz's mix, drawing out the intro for 90 seconds before dropping the vocal. He maintains the languid pacing throughout, adding a kick drum here, the interlocking synth lines there and then ties it all up with a sedate string-laden breakdown."
-- Todd L. Burns
08. Mlle Caro & Franck Garcia - Dead Souls
(Radio Slave Long Distance Kiss Remix) [Buzzin' Fly]
"Mlle Caro and Franck Garcia's 'Dead Souls' was a rich and emotional pop-house track, but Radio Slave wanted his remix to take the song closer to its title's dead heart. Edwards doubles up the length, jacks up the kick drum, and strips away the jangled guitars to deliver a bleepy and hollow minimal marathon that voids any intonation in Caro and Garcia's voices, so that dead souls were themselves singing the lyrics."
-- Dimitri Nasrallah
07. TRG - Broken Heart (Martyn's DCM Remix) [Hessle Audio]
"Martyn takes TRG's sombre but hard-edged original and turns it into a melancholic but hopeful garage cum dubstep beauty. The vocals have been detuned; they sit lower in the mix and build a wistful atmosphere over the Detroit-sounding pads, a broken beat-esque drum workout and a driving but warm bassline. The angry and painful post break-up heart of the original is in effect turned into the sexy and lustful yearning of unreciprocated love."
-- Karl Tryggvason
06. Sascha Dive - Deepest America (Moodymann Remix) [Ornaments]
"Cynics might see Moodymann's remix of 'Deepest America' as Kenny Dixon Jr's statement on European house music. Riding along an infectiously percussive shuffle, countless sampled disco loops are layered around a yearning gospel vocal ('Music! Music! Ain't no soul no more!'), before a pulsating space-age arpeggio flies in out of nowhere to throb you into submission. It's quite a journey for a seven-minute house record—and one that's executed perfectly by Dixon."
-- Richard Carnes
05. Matias Aguayo - Minimal (DJ Koze Mix) [Kompakt]
"Focusing on the guitar lick, DJ Koze reimagines 'Minimal' as gently swelling disco reminiscent of Modjo's 'Lady.' This track has that 'iron fist in a velvet glove' thing going on—the sounds and style are smooth but with a restrained power and a constant escalation of tension that's likely to end up with people being surprised at how hard they've been dancing."
-- Jacob Wright
04. Sascha Funke - Mango Cookie (DJ Koze's Pink Moon Rmx) [BPitch Control]
"DJ Koze's epic re-imagining of 'Mango' takes elements from a completely different song ('A Fortune Cookie Symphony'), house music (the unyielding kick that only takes 120 seconds to appear) and outer space (just about everything else). It's less remix than it is jumping-off point, as though Koze came into the studio and set out to forget everything he knew about dance floor dynamics. God bless him."
-- Todd L. Burns
03. Hercules & Love Affair - Blind (Frankie Knuckles Vocal) [DFA]
"Promos of 'Blind' in its original form appeared early enough for it to feature in DJ sets last NYE. But Knuckles' utterly infectious, extended take took the record to an entirely new level, ensuring it became one of 2008's most enduring club anthems. Though incongruous initially, Antony Hegarty's soaring vocals, that nagging trumpet line and a bassline warm enough to double as a duvet all combine to devastating effect."
-- Dave Stenton
02. Sebbo - Watamu Beach (Moritz von Oswald Rework) [Desolat]
"I hate to say it, but it's embarrassing how much better the Moritz remix is compared to the original. Where the original sounds like a hurried attempt at a current trend, Oswald's has all the time in the world. Like an exercise in deep, meditative breathing, it unfolds into as much space as it needs, holds it for as long as it wants and then lets it go in a wonderful ambient fade-out."
-- Peter Chambers
01. Ricardo Villalobos - Minimoonstar (Shackleton Remix) [Perlon]
"Shackleton's beats are (relatively speaking) very straight sounding, even though they're made from popping hand claps under heavy flanges and what could well be a pair of large, metallic scissors positioned in disturbing proximity to your head/phone/cable. Beneath all these clippy snippets, however, is a gentle kick that marks time until a softer four-to-floor comes in, sending it all forward into… Doom? Bliss? Something between the two. With this returned favour and Ricardo's previous mix for Shackleton, the duo have managed to elevate 'dance music' into something strange, unsettling, startling, and wonderful."
-- Peter Chambers
What were your top remixes of 2008?
Have your say in the RA forums
Voters: Bernardo Arrospide, David Berkley, Per Bojsen-Moller, Clovis Bouhier, Richard Brophy, Todd L. Burns, Richard Carnes, Philipp Cerfontaine, Peter Chambers, Richard Chinn, Paul Clement, Thomas Cox, Nate Deyoung, Terrence Fuller, Stéphane Girard, Chris Hobson, Todd Hutlock, Mohson Iqbal, Finn Johannsen, Tom Jones, Eike Kühl, Matt Langler, Sam Louis, Will Lynch, Chris Mann, Michaelangelo Matos, Joshua Meggitt, Dimitri Nasrallah, Grego O'Halloran, Siana Petro, Daniel Petry, William Rauscher, Elly Rifkin, Carl Ritger, Christian Rose-Day, Piero Ruzzene, Greg Sawyer, Colin Shields, Björn Schaeffner, Philip Sherburne, Lee Smith, Dave Stenton, Samuel Strang, Mark Strauss, Christopher Thomarios, Nik Torrens, Karl Tryggvason, Derek Walmsley, Jacob Wright and Sean-Michael Yoder.