Tag Archives: Remix

A varied Horace Andy remix project

horaceandy-brokenbeatsHorace Andy’s catalogue spans more than 40 years and includes a vast number of hits songs for a wide range of producers, including legends such as Coxsone Dodd, Phill Pratt and Bunny Lee.

German reggae, dub and electronica label Echo Beach has hi-jacked a bunch of his most beloved recordings for a remix album titled Broken Beats. And instead of using the original vocals, Horace Andy stepped into the studio to sing new versions on top of these cherished riddims.

His distinct falsetto is one of greatest in the business. His voice is however darker and deeper – but not weaker – compared to his glory days in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

There are several versions of each track – three cuts of the classic Skylarking, two renditions of the mighty Cuss Cuss and so on. Some might probably think that the remixers have demolished and destroyed these beloved recordings, while some would agree that they have only refurbished and refined them for a new generation of listeners.

Truth is that both sides are right. Some remixes are too much and make you long for the original version, while others get a new edge by the electric out of space alien treatment. An example of the latter is Rob Smith’s version of Cuss Cuss with its drugged out bass line and frantic percussion as well as Dubblestandart’s dreamy Money Money.

Broken Beats is at times hypnotic, at times relaxed, and it sheds light on of one reggae’s finest singers and takes his music into the future.

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Talib Kweli goes dub

Max Tannone’s new remix project has just hit the streets. This time it’s a follow up to his brilliant mash-up album Mos Dub released earlier this year.

The new album – Dub Kweli – pairs the lyrics of acclaimed hip-hop artist Talib Kweli with the sound of rough dub from the 70’s and 80’s.

There are plenty of interesting rhythms here, and several seem like odd choices. Not many of them are well known, like Jah Marcus Words. Nevertheless, the rhythms are flawless.

Among the better know include Stop That Train, a masterpiece originally produced by Derrick Harriot, or Marcus Garvey by Burning Spear.

Talib Kweli is one of the most skilled rappers ever and his voice suits these rock hard rhythms perfectly. If you listened to Mos Dub as much as I did, then you must have Dub Kweli as well. Download for free here.

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Al Fingers reinvents music

“There are no rules in the world of mash-ups, the weirdest combinations can have the best results.” These words are from Al Fingers, a London-based musician, producer and DJ, who recently orchestrated the Greensleeves/Stüssy collaboration resulting in a book, a mixtape and t-shirt line.

Al Fingers has made blends using two decks since he was a kid – often for mixtapes, but sometimes to play out live in clubs and at parties. The first mash-up he put out was Marvin Gaye’s classic What’s Going On over the powerful Take A Ride rhythm, originally produced by Coxsone Dodd.

− At that time I was putting together a themed mixtape called Serious Times. All the tunes were about the state of the world – a musical attack on George Bush and his minions. I wanted to use Marvin’s What’s Going On and Johnny Osbourne’s Truth & Rights, because they both fit the theme. I had the Marvin acapella so I tried blending it with the Truths & Rights instrumental and it worked, writes Al Fingers in an e-mail to Reggaemani.

“Presenting the song in a new light”
He writes that a great mash-up is one that sounds natural, like the singer was really singing over that particular beat. But you need to be patient and put in a lot of time.

− I spend a lot of time tweaking the phrasing of the vocal, so that it sits on the beat in the right way. The main thing is that it needs to sound believable and not forced in any way, he writes and continues:

− At the same time, I think a good mash-up reinvents a tune, in a way that is unexpected, sometimes bringing out parts of the vocal that you may not have noticed in the original. A great mash-up needs to be musical but also interesting – presenting the song in a new light.

Interest in different kinds of music
According to Al Fingers, a great mash-up producer needs a good ear, but it also helps to have an interest in different kinds of music as the mix of genres can produce unexpected and interesting results. He also points out one thing that French producers Bost & Bim thirst for.

− Ideally, you also need a big selection of acapellas and instrumentals, and a lot of patience, because although some mash-ups can be put together in no time, others can take a lot of fine tuning.

Trial and error
In producing mash-ups, Al Fingers tries a lot of different combinations and develops the ones that sound promising. He always combines tunes that are already in the same key and doesn’t mess with the pitch too much, although sometimes uses a bit of Auto-Tune to fine tune the vocals.

− For example, sections where the singer has been slightly out of tune may not have been noticeable in the original, but can stand out more over a different beat. Tempo’s obviously also important. If the tempo of the vocal needs to be changed too much, it won’t work, he writes and gives an example:

− I recently tried a well known Motown vocal over the Usher/Lil Jon Lovers & Friends instrumental. In terms of feel and key, the vocal worked great, but because the beat is so slow and for longer phrases the song sounded ridiculous being slowed down so much, so I dropped the idea. It’s a shame because I could hear that it would have been a sweet slow jam.

Hassle with clearances
Al Fingers writes that he hasn’t got many comments from the artists he has mashed and doubts that the artists have actually heard them.

Mark Ronson liked the Bob Marley No woman No Cry remix I did over his Love Is A Losing Game beat and I’m trying to get the Kings Of Leon to listen to a mash-up I’ve done with one of their acapellas with a view to putting it out, but it’s difficult, he writes and continues:

− I’ve approached a few labels to suggest that they release some of the remixes I’ve done. But generally they seem to see it as too complicated with all the clearances, and aren’t that interested. It’s a shame because there are some great mash-ups out there that don’t really get heard because they don’t get the exposure.

He mentions some mash-ups that have had proper releases, for instance Mark Vidler with Blondie & The Doors and the Mashed album for EMI, and Gloria Estefan over Mylo’s Drop The Pressure. However, he thinks they are too few and far between and reveals a dream.

− Recently I was lucky to be able to produce some legit Greensleeves mash-ups, using Junjo Lawes’ instrumentals. Ideally I’d like to be approached by a label like Motown, and pair them with another label like Studio 1. That would make for a wicked mash-up album! You just need someone at the label to have the vision and belief in that kind of project.

Curious about how Al Fingers productions sound? Check out his web site or download a mash-up of Cher’s Believe and the Declaration of Rights rhythm.

 Believe (Declaration Remix). (Right click, save as).

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This was the third and last part of Reggaemani’s interview series on mash-ups. The previous two was with Bost & Bim and Max Tannone.

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