SPECIAL NOTE: Keep an eye on 2020k. We’re giving away a few copies of Shakkei Remixed by Origamibiro in the very near future!
When it comes down to creating some of the more sophisticated, organic Electronic music, it’s Nottingham’s Origamibiro that does it best. The trio proved this in 2011, when they released their sophomore record Shakkei, which combined loads of field recordings, acoustic instrumentation, and manipulated loops, amongst other composing layers, that molded together an extraordinary work of art (read the 2020k review of Shakkei here). Fortunately, we have Shakkei Remixed, a compilation of re-workings from the original releases’s content that features productions from some great electronic, respected and under the radar artists.
Firstly, there are two major ways a remix album can work. The first way includes complete reworkings, new productions, and having the artists remixing the track completely annihilate the original and treat it as if it’s their own production. Some great remix releases have spawned out of this method, but Shakkei Remixed takes a different approach. When you listen to Remixed, it actually sounds like a continuation of it’s predecessor in that every artist weaves together their own take on a given track, while incorporating vast majorities of the native content.
Actually, one could even take this a step further and say that the artists featured on this compilation were all riding the same brainwave. All of the songs on this album contain the sort of vibes that radiate from each other and form something that sounds like a comprehensive album. We’re not talking purely based on great mastering (though the album does sound wonderful, sonically), but within the compositions and productions themselves. Rarely does this happen on a Remix disc, and it’s a flawless, enthusiastic feat that each individual involved should be proud of indirectly accomplishing.
Set In sand opens the seventeen disc set by delicately reconstructing and arranging the original stems of “Ballerina Platform Shoes” into a slightly more rhythmic feel before adding a morphing, warbling, semi-distorted sounding synthesizer line midway though the song. Right before a complicated percussive section toward the end of the song, there’s one particular bar that contains the original bass line, played, but with a beautiful reverberation technique that slowly fades in and feeds into the mix. This creates an amazing sense of depth and is unique in it’s way of treating the bass and reverb together to create a long attack. While it does exist in the original version of the song, it’s presence in this adaptation is contains more attention and focus.
Intriguing are the latter three remixes of “Ballerina…” that appear side by side, a little over halfway through the disc. It’s a bit strange to hear different takes of the same song side by side on a record as opposed to single release, but their differences allow for this to happen. Phylum Sinter remains pure in the way Set In Sand offers and The Remote Viewer gives a somber approach. The obscure route to this particular song is taken by Proem. Proem, who’s real name is Richard Bailey, provides one of the best remixes on the set by stripping away the diaphanous nature of the song’s foundation , and adds euphoric anxiety via whole note synth-bass notes, tightly sampled percussion. relies on the original track’s pads to add tension or disrupt it with glimpses of positivity.
Plaid (who remixed Bjork‘s “All is Full of Love” in 1999) dig into this compilation as well and give Origamibiro’s “Impressions of Footfall” a bright, completely morphed, warm feel. The duo twists together an ambient intro that slowly builds up into a more complex structure. Several female vocals play their way through the middle of the 6+ minute journey, with an EQ boost toward the upper frequencies. This designs an airy effect that helps develop into a lead protion of the mix, without over crowding it. Throughout Plaid’s mix, there are several drastic changes to the remix’s formation that intertwine unexpectedly, but nicely.
In contrast, Melodium also give “…Footfall” their go. The final outcome is one of the more emotional sections of Shakkei Remixed and in Origamibiro’s growing catalog of music. Melodically, the remix takes on repetition and uses it to the best possible advantage. Long reverberation techniques create powerful solitude on the track’s introduction and the field recording looping creates a mood for the melancholic drone that follows through the bulk of the mix’s anatomy. Unfortunately, Melodium’s mix clocks in at a quick 3:05 and contains a quick fade out that abruptly deserts the strong disposition, when it could have been assembled a bit further.
“Dusk & Umber” made it’s way onto our Top 20 tracks of 2011 and Isan generates quarter a small quarter note click while different instrumentation provides the forefront of the mix, allowing the overwhelmingly beautiful piano and string recording flourish in support. Eventually, samples, glitch-esque percussion drop in and out of the song before Moby-esque whole note strings (think the ones from his 18 album) are brought into the mix. For containing the quite densely recorded piano, the song still has a lot of sonic space inside of it and leaves a lot of room dynamically.
Within the realm of dynamics, Shakkei Remixed holds an absolutely beautiful average of 10db of range as an entire piece and even has The Remote Viewer Remix of “Ballerina Platform Shoes” holding an average of 15 db of dynamic range! These numbers are practically unheard of, so it’s jaw dropping, awe-inspiring, and definitely a must hear record. Tom Hill (who is a member of Origamibiro) did the mastering for this remix CD, so his work is to be commended for being able to string together so many talented, diverse tracks and complete a master that showcases each individuals work, while mastering the art of mastering by balancing out the levels quite nice without squashing any of the tracks or original integrity of them.
Of course, the package that the Remix CD comes in is remarkable as well and features artwork from The Joy Of Box, who is the visual aspect of Origamibiro. While, for the most part, the CD is housed within a simple slipcase, it’s the inside, front, back photographs that are simplistic enough to describe the essence of the band and the behind the scenes look that always seems to ironically be at the forefront of this band.
All in all, Shakkei Remixed is a stunning 17 track collection of music, remixed music, visual elements, and successful collaborative endeavor that the trio and all artists involved in the making of this should be commended for.
Album rating: 4/5