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Alt-J - Reduxer (Album Review)

Monday, 01 October 2018 Written by Jacob Brookman

Remix albums don’t always work. The best examples refresh and reveal elements of the original songs, giving them new life and often broadening their appeal. When they fail, it is often because the tracks lack the integrity and consistency of the source material.

Some of the most common issues stem from to the logistics of creating them. Different producers bring their own individual approaches and may end up with a track that they have never heard before accepting the commission.

‘Reduxer’ - a full scale remix of Alt-J’s 2017 album, ‘Relaxer’ - is helped by three main factors: the consistency of its hip-hop sound, the quality and variety of collaborators, and the fact that the original wasn’t actually that good in the first place. That said, it too often underwhelms.

Pleader is a clear standout, combining compelling bars by Puerto Rican doctor-turned-rapper PJ Sin Suela with the mystical lyrical refrain of How Green is My Valley.

The track has a Kanye West-esque command of disparate elements and, in all honesty, really shouldn’t work. But some intense production and arrangement nous means it lands a bafflingly direct hit. Another excellent moment is Kontra K’s take on In Cold Blood. The crunching, smashing drums match up with the spiky organ, and his German rapping gives it a gothic quality that feels surprisingly original in British pop.

Elsewhere the semi Rizzle Kick Jimi Charles Moody lends a nu-soul approach to Hit Me Like That Snare. The track's fundamental balance is spot on, and his saucy vocal gives sex appeal to a band who often lack it. But it’s also a little dull. A lot of the time, in fact, ‘Reduxer’ gets very close to doing something amazing and doesn’t quite manage to stick the landing. Songs lack the hyperactive musicality of Alt-J and the full-throated personality of a singular hip-hop act.

In terms of genre, it feels like updated version of ‘90s trip-hop - Portishead or even Massive Attack. That’s no bad thing, and as a style it is certainly worthy of more exploration. But the album also spends a lot of time doing very little. Maybe you need to be stoned to fully enjoy it. Remix albums don't always work.

Alt J Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon October 15 2018 - DUBLIN Olympia Theatre
Tue October 16 2018 - DUBLIN Olympia Theatre
Wed October 17 2018 - DUBLIN Olympia Theatre
Sun October 21 2018 - GLASGOW SEC Armadillo
Tue October 23 2018 - LEEDS Town Hall
Wed October 24 2018 - LEICESTER De Montfort Hall
Thu October 25 2018 - GATESHEAD Sage Gateshead
Sun October 28 2018 - MANCHESTER Bridgewater Hall
Mon October 29 2018 - LONDON Royal Albert Hall
Tue October 30 2018 - LONDON Royal Albert Hall

Click here to compare & buy Alt J Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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