You'd think that, by now, people should have realized that the remix album rarely works. LA producer Nosaj Thing manages to somewhat sidestep the issue, though: Drift Remixed (centered around his 2009 debut album Drift) is so short that it's almost an EP. With less time for tedium to fester or for exhaustion to set in, Mr. Thing and Friends provide a breezy listen, a sort of Rough Guide to the fringes of vaguely danceable and agreeable outsider electronic music in 2010.
The original Drift was a quaint album, similarly brief and impossible to dislike while it was playing. Jason Chung balanced the overdriven hip-hop of his contemporaries with gentle melodic accents, and smoothed off some of the ugly distortion. Drift Remixed plays it relatively safe when it comes to remixers, sticking mostly to associates and sonic sympathizers, and the results vary from disappointingly predictable to predictably great.
The best remixes come from those most removed from Nosaj Thing; Austrian duo Dorian Concept elongate "Voices" into an epic romance in a gently dubstep style, refraining from their tendency for swooning sprawl with choked silence. That remix sets a high standard early into the album, matched only by Jon Hopkins' remix of "Us." The London-based producer's take is startling in its spike-studded ferocity, submerging itself deeper into a vat of bubbling acid until it's completely eaten away and the track assumes a floaty ethereality. Dntel makes an appearance that sounds right out of 2003: blasting but harmonious organ riffs mercilessly suppressing ornate melodic swells. It's dated, and it's downright lovely. In contrast, newly emergent producer Jamie XX fashions a mournful, slightly creepy lullaby that brings to mind Kode9's initial description of Darkstar, "like hearing circuitry cry."
When Chung looks to his LA family, the results are uneven. The album opens in unremarkable fashion with Low Limit's generic hip-hop rework of "Quest," and Daedelus' offering is surprisingly disjointed. In contrast, when Teebs wraps his feathery wings and tubular synths around "Caves" or Take takes a hammer to "Light #1" and exposes the dizzy innards, the results are satisfying variations on their respective formulas.
Drift Remixed doesn't reinvent the remix album or even really make a case for the format. It's just a diverse half-hour of firmly individual artists doing their own thing. Just like its progenitor, it's brief and lightweight, a delectable amuse bouche in preparation for a main course. (Nosaj Thing's forthcoming second album perhaps?)
Tracklist: Nosaj Thing - Drift Remixed01. Quest (Low Limit Remix)
02. Voices (Dorian Concept Remix)
03. Us (Dntel Remix)
04. Caves (Teebs Remix)
05. Fog (Jamie xx Remix)
06. Us (Jon Hopkins Remix)
07. Coat of Arms (Daedelus Remix)
08. Light #1 (Take Remix)
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