Jul 18, 2008 - 10:37 PM
RMXXOLOGY, a compilation of remixed songs from Delicious Vinyl's archives, is laced with the unexpected and pushes the music into new territory. It doesn’t always go places you want to go, but for the most part it’s a surprising, funky album that breathes new life into good tracks that haven’t been heard for a while.
The Philippians’ remix of the “Runnin” by the Pharcyde is one of the tastiest cuts on the album with soothing harmonies, a beat filled with strange clicking wood sounds, and zipping robot noises. The samples of the vocals and original beat also get scratched around on the turntable, the long vocal “Awaaaaaay” cutting in and out. The drums disappear in the middle of the song and things get spacey, but then a house-inspired build-up brings the beat back in when Imani’s verse comes around. All of this fleshes out the track, taking the song further, making it feel like you’ve gone on a musical trip.
And Hot Chip’s remix of “Passin Me By” also seems to pick up where the Pharcyde left off, where they were forced to move on by time or technological restraints, or where they were simply satisfied with the beat. It starts with the songs recognizable beat and it goes someplace new. Fuzzy synth chords and mournful guitar licks creep in with spooky vocal-choir “ahhs” and organ swells that lend a whole darker side to the song.
Eminem (believe it or not) also manages to fill in the blank spaces in Masta Ace’s “Slaughtahouse”. Dr. Dre’s influence shines through as high lead melodies chirp and squeak above a dark background. And Pink Enemy’s version of “Never Stop” by The Brand New Heavies feels like Quincy Jones and Trent Reznor collaborated with Masato Nakamura (that means Michael Jackson, Nine Inch Nails, and Sonic the Hedgehog), and it is strange and groovy. Little bits of the vocals cut in during the sax solo with brain-tweaking effects.
Unfortunately, not everything is a strange, funky, new take on an old idea.
The first track, "Freak-A-Zoid Robotz," isn’t actually a remix, but a new tune by Bobby Evans that is flooded with jittery “bee-boop” noises. My favorite part about this track is the (unintentional?) comedic aspect of a robot saying, “I’m a freak-a-zoid robot and I live down in Miami.”
And then there’s Don Rimini’s four-on-the floor, synth-heavy, rave-kid take on Young MC's “Bust a Move”. Listening to this track is kind of like rubbernecking at a traffic accident – you feel a little bad for the song/people, and yet you don’t look away or turn to the next track. The samples are jarring and the fast moving chords clash harshly, but between Young MC’s rapid rhyming and the insistent “UNZ! UNZ! UNZ! UNZ!” of the beat, my head starts moving back and forth involuntarily, so I guess that means it actually grooves (or is that the original jam gasping under the wreckage?).
The other Young MC remix, “Know How,” is again so up-tempo and busy that it feels like you’re hangin’ out with your 9-year-old cousin that has ADD. Calm down kid! It was cool to hear Young MC’s motor-mouthed rappin’ float above a sampled soul beat. But with so much going on in the remix, I’d have to be really high on some good uppers before I’d be like, “Yeah! Yeah! This song is the shit! Yeah! Yeah!”
But then, hearing the sexy booty-house influence of Peaches rubbed all over Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing” makes the whole merger of house and hip-hop start to make a little more sense. The intro nods to Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It” and when Loc’s vocals drop, spacey synths and fuzzy bass tones set a backdrop like a velvet curtain. Once inside, Peaches adds some naughty vocals and more bouncing, electric laser sounds. They sing together on the chorus and trade rhymes on the last verse, making it sound like a duet.
There are also instrumental versions of five of the songs and the compositions by themselves are pretty impressive. And in the case of “Sittin’ On Chrome,” Masta Ace’s rapping actually seems to pale in comparison to Mr. Flash’s juicy, complex and sporadic arrangement. Word is Delicious won’t be releasing the instrumental on vinyl though, which means the DJs, the dancers and the record company are all gonna miss out. Too bad.
‘C-’ for Bobby the Freak-A-Zoid’s rave crew.
A+ for weird creativity.
Sam Devine is a contributor to Oh Dang! and will eat your children for a nominal fee.