Ricardo Villalobos and Virgil Abloh deliver a disappointing remix set.
It's hard to get excited about a new Villalobos remix. These days, he cranks out same-sounding clickers embellished with a few perfunctory elements from whatever track he's editing, and the output often feels prosaic. And that's the case on his "Cleopathique" version of "Cleopatra." A typical Villalobos micro-rhythm, hewn from closed hats ricocheting off pinprick kicks, provides the framework for the original's deadpan vocals and acidic melody. Its wacky sound design and super-compact drums might throw off dancers accustomed to bigger bombs, but it could work as a layer on a third turntable. While Villalobos's ability to create convincing grooves and transmit his oddball personality never fails, it still comes off like another record label's attempt to sidle up to the master and hope a little cool rubs off.
Where Villalobos has reduced his craft to a formula, Abloh's remix suffers from the opposite problem: it doesn't find a groove. His "Future-Jazz" edit of "Blessed" has an awkward, stumbling momentum created by the interplay between off-grid kicks and bass tones. A hi-hat would help form a groovier rhythm, but its closed tick appears oddly late in the track—over halfway through—and the ride cymbal never quite does the trick. It's either faint in the mix or crashing through in attention-seeking bouts, its super-long release causing clutter. The ideas Abloh adds to the stripped-back original—standard-issue house organs, nasal synth whines—unfold sloppily, so it's not enjoyable when each new element is introduced.