Only a couple of weeks after heaping praise on Andi Otto’s “Via” album, I was very happy to see it rapidly followed up by a 10-track remix package that takes five tracks from the culturally diverse, top-notch ethno-electronica-but-in-a-good-way album and spins them off in a variety of directions with a broad and not too cliché international flavour. That said, the overriding tone of this release is slow, crisp, mellowed-out, thin house beats in the approximate 100bpm region, overlaid with light sprinklings of clean digital tones and organic and unusual instrumentation. None of the remixes tread very far from this template.
The Brazilian Peter Power slows down “Bangalore Whispers”, maintaining the complex rhythms and deft electronic blend that the original album had, and setting the stall firmly out to demonstrate that Via Remixes is far more than just ten monotonous kick drums. The Ground Ground mix (or possibly the DJ Ground remix, due to labelling confusion) of the title track is similarly light-footed, a soft kick bed under bells and plucks that is almost stereotypical Japanese noises at times, yet mellow and extremely listenable. Similarly, Sundrenched, from California, goes a step further than your average remixer and adds sliding guitar notes that are pure Americana. Thankfully that’s about as far as the geographical stereotyping goes, but it’s never problematic.
Kirrin Island strip back “Kyoto Pebbles” into a rather bouncy stepping house number, before Otto himself reworks “Bangalore Whispers” by concentrating on the cut-up MD Pallavi vocal and playing around with it as a logical extension of the original album version.
Things pick up a little in the second half. Both Paradise Hippies’ tackling of “Gianna Anna” and the Akizzbeatzz take on “Via” raise the club tempo just a little, adding a repeating-note baseline, hints of very slight tension build, and slightly more upbeat grooves with plenty of dub delay. Akizzbeatzz’s vocal looping is particularly mesmeric.
The final block of mixes take things into more droney, glitchy territory, but initially without losing the rhythms. Lorin Strohm rearranges “Bangalore Whispers” into something more distorted and broken yet still somehow funky. Bug Lover’s “Kyoto Pebbles” is the percussion-less exception to the rule, but still rooted in patterned loops of highly twisted saxophone samples to good atmospheric effect, before the Et Kin remix of “Dharti Cash Puke” is a fitting wrap-up, bringing the soft kicks and synth bass back, adjusting the silliest track from the original album into something that’s still a little quirky but with tense rolling strings tempering it.
As a remix album it’s extremely coherent, faithful but imaginative. It doesn’t quite scale the heights of the album itself but it’s a commendable companion piece. At the time of writing this remix album is a name-your-price release on Bandcamp, though that won’t last long; snap it up while you can, and be sure to consider typing a number other than ‘0’ and supporting some high-quality, deeply thoughtful tunes with a truly international flavour.