I can only imagine the difficulty of attempting to remix someone else’s track—of trying to respect the world an artist has built while simultaneously breaking it down to isolated pieces, only to reconstruct it into something new. It’s a delicate balance between respect and rejection, of destruction and creation. The best remixes don’t just serve a functional purpose—of merely transforming a track into club friendly material—but instead they bring the track into the remixer’s sonic territory, refashioning it into their world view. Some artist thrive in this space like Ricardo Villalobos with his narcotic extended remixes or DJ Sprinkles with her voluptuous but politically-infected house remixes.
Two other artists that have mastered the art of the remix are DJ Sotofett and DJ Fett Burger. The two brothers, from Sex Tags fame, have the ability to tack on their signature insouciant sound to any track they remix. Both have released numerous remixes over the years but two in particular caught my attention last year: DJ Sotofett’s remix of Yoshinori Hayashi’s “Waterwheel” and DJ Fett Burger’s remix of Furious Frank’s “Flamen Galah.”
Of the former, DJ Sotofett brings a welcomed overhaul to Yoshinori Hayashi’s “Waterwheel,” keeping many of the sounds the same but rearranging them to give them more of a purpose. Hayashi’s music has always had a meandering, formless quality to them, with complex layers of sounds constantly shifting and never settling into a comfortable groove. But Hayashi pushed this sound to an almost impenetrable degree on the difficult EP, The Forgetting Curve. Gone are the beats and the whimsical tunes of his last EP, The Edge of the Edge, and what’s left are downright dreary and nightmarish textures. On the original “Waterwheel,” an acoustic guitar meanders through some semblance of a melody while a laxidasical snare and haunting synths come in and out at their own leisure. Each component of the track feels as if it’s struggling to come together to form some kind of sense. That Sotofett is able to rearrange it to give it more of a structure that people can hold onto is an accomplishment in itself, but he pushes it further by enlisting Osaruxo to play violin while also adding additional instrumentation of his own, such as percussion and flutes. The result is “Waterwheel Scenery DJ Sotofett’s Dubcurve Fix-Mix,” one of his best tracks that pays respects to the original while also evoking it’s own ideas. Sotofett loops the haunting synths from before and speeds up the aimless guitar picking, but this time he balances them out against a irreverent baseline that seems indifferent to the melancholy that Hayashi’s music inhabits.
On DJ Fett Buger’s remix of Furious Frank’s “Flamen Galah,” Fett Burger keeps things simpler but no less ambitious. The original is an electro track that bordered on ambience, a drum pattern serving as the backbone of the track while alien sounds swirl around. The focus is kept on texture and mood and it quickly settles on a comfortable low-key groove. On DJ Fett Burger’s “Flamen G 411 Street Mix,” he keeps the basic structure the same yet everything sounds significantly amplified. The percussion is much heavier while a ripping synth surges through the track. He removed some of the dripping elements of the original, but in it’s place are dramatic synths that close out the second half of the track giving it a sense of drama and weight. It’s a similar effect he used on the excellent “No-No 4 B” release of last year, where the song also meandered for half it’s length before giving way to striking synth chords. The effect is a track that reconfigures the original track to have a wider scope and a bigger statement.