P.Diddy and Badboy may have invented the “remix,” but others have taken it to new levels. A landslide of remixes came in last year and this, from a landslide of remixes of the multi-colored sonic interpretations of Jay-Z’s The Black Album to the eccentric, Candyland tastes of MF Doom running all over various Nas vocals.
Electro-rock duo Evan Mast and Mike Stroud, formerly known as Cherry and now known as Ratatat, try their hand at crossover rap re-workings in their bootleg mash-up Remixes, Vol. 1. But Ratatat’s takes an “organic” angle, using electric instrumentation over the more traditional “inorganic” sampling aesthetics of the originals. And Remixes ends up sounding like remixing just for the sake of remixing.
Their production is clean, but the band’s electro sound comes off mechanical and dry — hardly fitting the vibes of the songs they’ve been matched with, and almost every track hits the same. Ratatat strips the crate-digging classic sampling off tracks like Jay-Z’s “Sunshine” and Ghostface’s “Run” and dresses them up like plain salad with recycled organs, keyboards, subtle electric-guitar rifts, and synths that murmur and hum on every track. The hyped police sirens that define State Property’s “When You Hear That” are nowhere to be heard at all. Less aggressive and minimalist production starts the mix out fresh and intriguing, but it ends up long on repetition and short on content.
The bright spot is their re-interpretation of “Stunt 101,” which still thumps G-Unit style, but on the quiet-storm tip. The music sits comfortably somewhere between elevator fodder and dinner-party easy listening for the hip-hop minded. Missy’s “Wake Up” is redone, but the beats left me head-nodding asleep instead.