Leading the package, DJ Spinn chops and speeds up the vocals of "A Message," deploying them awkwardly into one of his 808-loaded rhythms. It's not that he does a bad job with it, but the Chicago producer's distinctively frantic style doesn't fit well with such a dazed, chimeric song. It feels just a bit off to hear Kelela's untouchable voice pitched higher, even if it's only a step or two. Mike Q & Divoli S'Vere's sparse remix of "The High" does better with vocal clips, making a breathy loop from twisted syllables and serving it up as the weightless central hook. Ditto Air Max '97's percussive "All The Way Down" remix, though his way of repeating certain phrases rips them of meaning. It seems to miss the point of remixing such a talented singer when her voice is used merely as texture.
Oddly enough, one of the best tracks on Hallucinogen Remixes has almost nothing to do with Kelela. MC Bin Laden's wild baile funk version of "Rewind" only lifts a short line from the original, weaving it intermittently through gruff vocal blasts and a gauntlet of claps, sub-busting bass and whooshing FX. It's a stretch to call the tune a remix, but you have to admire the guy for making the space entirely his own. Sporting Life takes a more traditional approach on his "Rewind," re-envisioning the song as spectral, down-and-dirty trap. The twist gives Kelela's voice a sly and restrained quality, and reveals a latent dark energy in the song. On his lengthy remix of "All The Way Down," Kahn goes down a similar route, but keeps to the original's low-slung groove and patient flow. Even his obvious added touches—flexing the low-end, sharpening the percussion and giving MC Gaika a number of bars to revel in his dancehall patois—fit seamlessly into Kelela's sultry slow-burn.
Fri / 22 Jan 2016
01. A Message (DJ Spinn Teklife Remix)
02. Rewind (MC Bin Laden Remix)
03. Rewind (Sporting Life Remix)
04. All The Way Down (Kahn Remix feat. Gaika)
05. All The Way Down (Air Max '97 Remix)
06. The High (Mike Q & Divoli S'vere Remix)
07. The High (Heavee & DJ Spinn Teklife Remix)