Remix albums can spark discussions with controversial opinions but I think it is important to give them the necessary spotlight. Not every remix is an improved version of the original but what is undeniable is that those remakes give songs a new light and a space for creative freedom. And this can sometimes bring out unexpectedly good results.
I want to take the opportunity and talk about the five remix albums I think do deserve the attention and can be classified as examples of remixes done right.
Truth be told, I usually approach remixes sceptically. A large part of them do not do justice to the original songs and rely on repetitive, mainstream beats to “make the song better” but this rarely works. However, by giving some reimagined versions of great songs a chance I have convinced myself remixes are a great thing.
Approaching a song from a different perspective and bringing it into a new light can have a great final result. As long as creativity and experimentation are chanelled in the right direction and the essence of the original song is preserved remakes are a work of art. Artists can show their interpretations of fellow creator’s original work and spice it up in a different genre creating a new (sometimes better) mood.
In this regard, I want to briefly showcase five remix albums I believe not only do justice to the originals but also bring them to the next level and create something different and worth listening to. I would love to hear your choice of great remixes, official or fan-made, so hit me up if you have something you think is worth the time.
Linkin Park – Reanimation
Listen to Reanimation
I think Reanimation is one of the best examples of remix albums done well. It has the gradual build-up starting with a slow, progressive intro (Opening is probably the best album opener I have heard) towards razor-sharp rap verses, breaks representing the eternity of 2000’s neo-metal movement, and, of course, aggressive energy-bombs with hellish screams that mostly define the original album – Hybrid Theory.
The 20 tracks on the record are exactly what a remix should be – they take the original songs as a foundation, keep the parts that define the Hybrid Theory era, and add creative twists that make the album sound like a completely different record.
Reanimation was recorded during the Hybrid Theory 2001 tour and consists of reimagined songs from the debut album. The reason those remixes work so well is probably the large number of DJs and hip-hop artist featured as collaborators (and the unleashing of Mike Shinoda’s experimentation desires, let’s not forget about that). The influences of electronic breaks and rewritten hip-hop verses makes the album sound fresh and gives listeners a taste of what Hybrid Theory could have sounded like if it took a different direction.
The solid spot as a number four of most sold records in the world proves that Reanimation did the job it was supposed to – it took an already great album to the next level and left an everlasting impression in music history.
The Chill Out Sessions – Bring Me The Horizon (feat. Draper)
I consider The Chill Out Sessions a criminally underrated EP. For some reason, it remains vastly undetected but I think it has a lot to offer.
The Chill Out Sessions take us back to the deathcore days of one of today’s leaders in the rock and alt scene. The EP was requested by Oliver Sykes back in 2011 inspired by the success of Suicide Season: Cut Up! (another remix album which I think could have done better but still has noteworthy achievements). However, it was not until late 2012 when we got the pleasure of hearing the finished EP (label complications making listeners suffer once again) and the result was nothing anyone could have imagined.
Draper’s trademarked relaxing and peaceful chill/liquid-step mood is fully active during the 30-minute mix. He managed to turn There Is Hell… from a chaotic and angry deathcore record into one of the most tranquil and relaxing collection of songs.
I really think what the DJ achieved is impressive. The gentle and beautiful voice of Lights in Crucify Me and Don’t Go takes the spotlight for a reason and makes the songs shine in a completely new… light. The instrumental piece Memorial is also gracefully blended with the incredible instrumentals of Blessed With A Curse to express emotions without even using vocals to send its message. And it is even more impactful this way.
My personal opinion is The Chill Out Sessions is one of those remix albums that are times better than the original (not a fan of deathcore Bring Me The Horizon, not gonna lie) and regardless of your taste, I think it is undeniable the transformation is praiseworthy. Not anyone can pull that off.
The Mutemath Sessions – Twenty One Pilots x Mutemath
Listen to The Mutemath Sessions
Tyler Joseph has proved to be not only a great lyricist and singer but also a talented producer. The remixes in The Location Sessions series during the Trench era displayed creative thinking and will to experiment with sounds, vocals, and arrangement in a beautiful way.
But this was not the only example of the musical genius of Twenty One Pilots. In late 2016 the band collaborated with artists they have looked up to and had the pleasure of touring with during the Emotional Roadshow run – Mutemath.
The Mutemath Sessions feature reimagined versions of several tracks from the Blurryface album and the new, for that time, single Heathens. All of the songs take a completely new shape and have elements that really elevate the already splendid tracks. The synergy between the two bands is impossible to miss and maybe this is exactly the reason why the collaboration resulted in such beautiful remixes.
Good Mmornin – Rayland Baxter
Listen to Good Mmornin
Okay, maybe this is a little bit of cheating because Good Mmornin is more of a cover album than a remix one. But I think it still fits the category with its distinctively different style and interesting twists to the original songs.
Ryland Baxter is a musician mostly operating in the country style of singing with interesting influences visible in the mix of his discography. Good Mmornin is a cover album (okay, it is complete cheating I guess) consisting of songs from Mac Miller’s Divine Feminine and Swimming.
Baxter puts a really calming twist to all of the songs bringing out the best of them under a new light. His mellow voice takes Mac’s great lyricism and his emotional burdens and filters them through a relaxing jazz-like delivery. It certainly is a remix/cover done will – seeing those masterpieces in a different perspective is another proof of what open-mindedness can achieve.
Feuer und Electro II – Rammstein Fan Remix Album
This one is not an official album but a great fan-made project. A collection of electro/dubstep remixes with killer drops and great build-up honouring the work of the undisputed metal titans Rammstein.
I was extremely sceptical towards it at first because I couldn’t imagine electro and dubstep incorporation to the heavy and twisted Rammstein style. Little did I know the people involved took the project in a very professional manner and isolated the parts of the chosen Rammstein tracks in a way which makes those completely alien elements fit perfectly well. Blue Stahli and Celldweller influences can be spotted in some of the mixes but the Rammstein energy is undeniably present as well which is a combination hard to top.
Feuer and Electro does justice to the original songs and is far from the stereotypical “remix” concept. It actually has diverse elements making it an irresistible energy booster transforming the aggression and heaviness into something different yet equally powerful.
So yay or nay for remix albums? As with everything else, it strongly depends on the execution but in general, I vote yay. Remixes have great potential to bring something new, refreshing, and unique to the table. It just has to be done the right way and above all the satisfaction level depends on the personal taste – if it is a remix of a song you love in a style you can hardly stand chances are the scales will shift towards nay.
What do you think? Which are your favourite remix albums/tracks? Let me know.
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