With two heavyweight rework albums from Camo & Krooked and Pendulum, the festival omnipresence of Friction & Killerhertz’ Fatboy Slim remix and versions of Mefjus’s Manifest starting pop up last month, it’s been a fruitful year for major league remixes.
And that’s before we even get to the dubplates and unofficial edits that have been heavily championed by select DJs; Urban Dawn’s take on The Beatles’ Come Together, Kanine’s version of Hackney Parrot or even Benny L’s take on John Holt’s Police In Helicopter (although that’s not really a remix, it’s just a killer use of a sample)
They say everything is a remix. But some are definitely are more necessary than others. Remixes like these…
Black Sun Empire feat. Virus Syndicate – Caterpillar (Drumsound & Bassline remix) (Blackout)
Drumsound & Bassline Smith have made a number of interesting moves this year. Most notably Simon Bassline Smith started the first comprehensive and unifying drum and bass playlist on Spotify called I Heart D&B, but musically it seems the trio are also out to branch out and create a spirit of collaboration and unity in the scene.
Enter: Black Sun Empire? Yes, that’s correct; earlier this year Drumsound & Bassline Smith remixed BSE and Virus Syndicate’s Caterpillar. It was the remix D&B didn’t know we needed until we had it. This remix set of Drumsound & Bassline’s year of collabs and subgenre straddling, and boy did they shake things up.
With this remix, the trio brought Virus Syndicate’s incredible vocals to the forefront, stripping down the stems and creating a new, harder set of drums and bassline with event the synths taking a back seat to the vox. They moded out said vox in places to create interest and then rolled the drums together with a new, dirtier synth. The result is that “Caterpillar” is now even harder than the original, no easy feat for a BSE track. (Layla Marino)
Camo & Krooked Witchdoctor (IAMU Remix) (Mosaik Music)
Easily one of the most provocative and singular tracks from Camo & Krooked’s remarkable Mosaik album last year gets the rub from one of the most provocative new artists in bass music right now. Most recently spotted poking fun at a particular well known dubstep label on his Soundcloud, the enigmatic yet pretty forthright newcomer IAMU completely turns Witchdoctor inside out and back to front. He scuffs it up and down with a sandpaper, tarnishes it in a toxic bass gloop and jumps up and down on it…. Then he rebuilds it into a cathedral like climax that is up there with the original. Subversive, twisted, confrontational and beautiful. Take that middle finger of yours, throw it in IAMU’s direction and hope he retaliates with more venom like this. He’s the hero we need and totally don’t deserve. (Dave Jenkins)
DC Breaks – Gambino (InsideInfo Remix) (Ram Records)
Arguably one of the most sought after remixes of the year, InsideInfo blew a lot of minds with this one. Reimagining the anthemic original and making it something completely his own, InsideInfo brought his signature sound design to the original for the perfect remix. With an incredibly suspenseful intro, InsideInfo masterfully builds the appropriate hype by keeping things simple and playing with moments of silence while holding on to an element of familiarity before decimating audiences left and right with the drop. Maintaining the original vocal known by all, InsideInfo splices plenty of his intelligent and incredibly clean neurofunk prowess to breathe new energy into the track, transforming it into the ultimate dancefloor weapon. (Rhiannon McCarter)
Dead Exit – Snake (Funtcase Remix)
Another highly sought after remix, Funtcase has been opening his sets with this particular track for the past three years – it really felt like Christmas come early when this one was released. Perhaps the most ominous and appropriately foreboding intro of all time, the track opens with a chilling vocal over a thumping heartbeat – the first minute is nothing short of suspenseful – we get goosebumps every time. After being on edge for so long, the drop hits like a wrecking ball – a memorable melody has the crowd chanting along, leading up to the long awaited drop which is nothing short of pure carnage. No one does filthy dubstep quite like Funtcase, but the masked madman has seriously outdone himself with this remix. Following the drop, he delivers an unexpected dose of funk, allowing things to simmer down slightly while anxiously awaiting the next drop. As if the first drop wasn’t insane enough, Funtcase somehow manages to amp things up another notch for the second, yet despite all the chaos, each sound remains crisp and clearcut, a true testament to his abilities as a producer. (Rhiannon McCarter)
Fatboy Slim – Right Here, Right Now (Friction & Killer Hertz Remix) (Elevate)
As he revealed in his deepest interview to date on this site, Friction is a man who has overcome many things and achieved many musical milestones in his career. And this remix is definitely up there with them. Anyone brave enough to take on a Fatboy Slim remix deserves some serious credit. Especially when he is from the same city. It’s a tune that took Friction several years to find the inspiration to finish, but with the help of Killer Hertz, it well and truly does the original proud. The famous anthemic intro lulls you into a state of calm, then hits you square in the face with one of those classic Friction bass riffs. I deem this one a certified rave destroyer… And so did many others, it came fourth in the Best Remix category in the Drum&BassArena Awards this year. No mean feat when you consider how many remixes are released every week. (Jake Hirst)
Foreign Concept & Halogenix – Waiheke Wine Club (Circuits Remix) (Critical Music)
Based on an original by Foreign Concept and Halogenix, Critical kept this one inside the tent with a remix by Kasra and InsideInfo. The thing about this tune that’s just so damn good is its movement, the fluidity of every element and how each drum hit, synth squelch and bass shake pushes it forward just that little bit more. It’s almost a bit scary when its bassline roars forth a beat or two after the drop, not because it sounds scary but because the ability of its creators to construct such visceral music terrifies us slightly. Technically incredible, this remix in some ways symbolises the Critical mission this year and I love it for that almost as much as I love it for how it sounds. (Ben Hunter)
Future Prophecies – Dreadlock (Drumsound & Bassline Smith Remix) (Breakbeat Kaos)
One of the more surprising D&B stories this year was the return of Breakbeat Kaos. Cruising in the slipstream of Bad Company’s first album in sixteen years, Fresh flipped the switch and brought back his and Adam F’s seminal imprint with a release from himself, Macky Gee and Phantasy. It was followed by the album Return Of The Junglesound where this epic refix resides. Maintaining that classic early 2000s infectious riff of the original, while beefing up the drums and arrangement for 2018, Drumsound & Bassline Smith provide an instant flashback to 2003 / 2007 when BBK picked up the VIP. Now in its new incarnation from the Technique titans, watch out for the warped bass twists on the break downs. Heavy. (Dave Jenkins)
High Contrast – If We Ever (Unglued Remix) (Hospital)
Unglued’s update on High Contrast’s evergreen anthem If We Ever is one of the many tracks to enjoy a classic dubplate style development this year. Originally a special, strictly for Unglued and Hozzy VIPs, at the end of 2017 is suddenly became the talk of the town (well, the talk of online groups at least) before spiralling out of control with naughty uploads popping up as quickly as Hospital could shut them down. Eventually, after a summer of heavy festival canage, it was released this September and still done busted the top 10s. Proof that the original system works, it was no surprise this won Best Remix at the Drum&BassArena Awards this month. (Dave Jenkins)
Icicle – Optech (140 Mix) (Entropy)
If it’s a different tempo version of a track but it’s done by the same artist does it still count as actual remix or a mix? Who cares? It’s Mr Freeze and he’s back at 140, swimming amongst the glaciers in nothing but his birthday suit without so much as a pimple. Those breaks and detuned stabs on the fills, that sudden swoop into that slinky stripped back almost anti-drop and general feel of unease that Mr Snik is absurdly good creating in his music… And especially good when he does it at 140. More of this please Icy. (Dave Jenkins)
Jareth – Rings of Saturn (Rene LaVice remix) (Ram Records)
2018 could quite easily be called The Year of LaVice. With the endlessly upbeat Canadian really stepping into his role as host of the BBC 1 and 1Xtra Drum & Bass Radio Show after taking it over from Friction in October 2017, LaVice also toured almost endlessly and released a series of singles which culminated in a full-length LP on RAM in July.
After all this, LaVice also released a quite unexpected remix. The original Rings of Saturn from indie pop/trip hop artist up-and-comer Jareth doesn’t seem like a first choice for a D&B remix, but it’s clear Mr. LaVice knew what he was doing. The remix is poppy and punchy, mixing jump up and liquid to perfectly compliment Jareth’s vocals. Now it sounds like “Rings of Saturn” was always meant to sound that way. Knock another one up for drum and bass’s Mr. Congeniality. (Layla Marino)
MC Bassman – Heavy & Dark (Bou & Simula Remix) (Souped Up)
“Heavy & Darrrrk”. You read that in Bassman’s voice, didn’t you? It’s impossible not to. Only the Shadow Demon Coalition bossman could deliver just three words and have them pack such a punch. These three words have been knocking about in dubplate mode for a while before finally gracing Serum’s Souped Up imprint last month, featuring a lethal mix from the head honcho himself, as well as this gritty stepper courtesy of Bou & Simula. There’s something about that fluttery, cascading bassline that complements Bassman’s iconic words so well. Take one glance around a dance floor when this drops and you’re bound to catch many distorted bass-faces distributing middle and/ or trigger fingers like it’s nobody’s business.
It’s been quite a mad year for both Bou and Simula as they solidified their spot amongst the rapidly rising new wave of talent that’s burst into the scene in the past couple of years. Talent that’s been recognised and supported by Serum since day one. Both as a DJ and now as a label owner. Fresh from picking up the Best New Label title at the Drum&BassArena Awards, Souped Up has racked up an immense roster of quality talent with their back-catalogue now sporting some serious weight. And with combinations like this continuing to grace the label and a stacked release schedule planned for the new year, the only way is up for the ever-expanding imprint. (Maja Cicic)
Mefjus – Sinkhole (Skeptical Remix) (Vision)
What do the Vision camp know about sinkholes that we don’t? Noisia warned us about them on their album Outer Edges in 2016, and this year Mefjus has backed up the message on his exceptional Manifest album with a twisted tunnelling track of the same name. Skeptical is clearly in on this sinkholian conspiracy, too. Also keen to warn us of their freak ground-swallowing acts of nature, his message comes by way of a stripped back wriggler that’s loaded with classic latent, underplayed Skeppy funk. Oh and loads of obese, flabby subs. The bigger the system you hear this on, the better it sounds. Sink when you’re winning. (Dave Jenkins)
Pendulum – Crush (Devin Townsend Remix) (Earstorm)
Pendulum’s Reworks album is an example on how to do a remix album properly; by reaching for names that are not obviously connected to the band and drum & bass, they manage to bring in a new fanbase with a bunch of great, diverse remixes from right across the board; Noisia to Icarus.
But the greatest remix of them all is Devin Townsend remix of Crush. The original was already a personal favourite of mine from their catalogue and Devin simply elevates it to the next level. Who would’ve thought the best way to improve a metal-influenced drum & bass track is by removing the drum & bass part of it? Everything from the slick guitars in the intro to Devin’s own verse towards the end is quite simply flawless. Here’s hoping they follow up on this with a collab… (Sampo Kaskia)
Silent Dust – Refuse (ft. DRS) (Calibre Remix)
Oh Calibre… The first time I heard this tune was on a bus traveling the stunning coast of Croatia and I listened to it on a loop around 6 times as every time it ended I felt like I wasn’t quite done with it yet. Calibre took Silent Dust’s chill original and injected an entirely new life into it. Those rolling breaks with that warm, purring bassline, topped off with DRS’s smooth vocals – this is a great example how to execute a remix like an absolute boss. All hail the music man… (Maja Cicic)
SpectraSoul Organizer (Circuits Rewire) (Critical)
Rewind to 2009: SpectraSoul release two 12”s on Critical before settling down at Shogun for a few albums. Organiser is one of the handful of tracks they released on the label and it stood out at the time with its gritty robotic insistency and abrasive funk. Nine years later, Critical bossman Kasra and InsideInfo decide it’s high time the track was given an update so they run it through their new collaborative Circuits machine. A little faster, looser drums and even more edge to the 40-a-day rasping robot, this was as unavoidable as Untitled Horn this summer. Massive. (Dave Jenkins)
SpectraSoul – Burst (ft Dan Moss) (Calibre remix) (Ish Chat Music)
Not content with giving us unifying bangers such as Untitled Horn, SpectraSoul have been subject to some exceptional remixes this year like this beauty from Calibre. Even if you didn’t know who was on the remix, you’d be able to tell it was the work of the masterful Dominick Martin after just three notes. The key to any great remix is taking an element from the original track and using it to sculpt it into your own work, and that’s exactly what Calibre has done here. Dan Moss’ haunting vocal pretty much the only aspect of SpectraSoul’s original which remains and it suits the feel of the tune to a tee. That, combined with the dreamy piano chords and typically spot on Calibre drums, makes for the best remix of 2018. (Robin Murray)
Tessela – Hackney Parrot (Kanine Bootleg)
Now I’m well aware this is a bootleg and not an official remix, but if you’ve felt Kanine’s re-work of Tessela’s classic tear through your chest like a freight-train this year, you know just how legit this badboy is.
It’s quite a bold move bootlegging such a coveted classic, but Kanine’s pulled it off in style and given it that raw, 2018 twist.
In the interest of keeping this review family-friendly we best end it here before I launch into a series of expletives, as that gritty drop, coupled with that cascading bassline seems to incite some filthy language on and off the dance floor. Two middle fingers up. (Maja Cicic)
Zed Bias – Pick Up The Pieces (Skeptical Remix)
Besides his legendary Soul:r release with Collette Warren, Skeptical’s music doesn’t tend to feature funky or soulful vocals. But perhaps it should, as this remix of Zed Bias proves. Deeply soulful at the top but gritty and rolling at the bottom, this remix has been consistently hammered by almost everyone in the scene since it came out, a reflection of just how good this tune is. It takes you on journey from start to finish and you’re never sure which part you love more because it’s all so good and it all fits together so well. In some ways it feels like two separate tracks, two separate worlds, but then there’s a vocal switch up and you’re back to never being able to even imagine that vocal without its accompanying bassline. It’s incredibly fun to mix and at this stage instantly recognisable, a true sing-a-long banger that we’re sure will be a constant presence in the rave for a while yet. (Ben Hunter)