Lido’s ‘Everything’ gets a robust makeover on new remix album
Remixes are, by the necessarily derivative nature of their construction, often looked at less seriously than than the original works they interpret. They’re easy to write off as risking less, requiring less effort or skill to create. But, if one stops to consider the complex and subtle rules that govern remixing and determine its efficacy, it’s readily apparent that remixing – at least, remixing well – is an art form of its very own.
Original work is beholden to nothing, it imposes no limits upon itself. A remix, however, has to operate within a certain set of boundaries, and is required to do many things at once. It has to oblige the assumptions and expectation that listeners bring to the original song, while subverting and surprising those expectations to create something new and vital. It has to identify and distill the strongest aspects of the original and then project them through a new lens.
The remix is a balancing act between the imitative and the innovative, an attempt to make the original sound new and the new a part of the original. Most remixes can be put into one of two categories based on how they attempt this balance. The first category is what we’ll call the live edits: the kind of remixes that are designed to blow minds and melt faces, ideally in a live performance. These remixes adhere closely to the structure and composition of the original while adding a new, and often more powerful, drop. They offer the listener the familiarity of the original and then subvert it for maximum effect, and, when done well, these kind of remixes can be incredibly impactful.
The second kind of remix is what we’ll call re-imaginings. These remixes attempt to capture the character of the original, its tone and its affect, rather than capitalize on its familiarity. They try to tell the same story in a new way, or offer a different interoperation of the story by playing with the musical ideals of the original. Re-imaginings are harder remixes to pull off than live edits, but they’re often some of the most memorable.
What both of these forms demonstrate is that remixing requires a skill set that is, in some ways, distinct from the skill sets required for successful original production. The best remixers transcend the songs they remix – they refine and augment the raw materials of the original into something surprising, convincing, and wholly realized. One such artist is Lido, whose LP Everything, released last October, is the subject of a new remix album. Lido produces with a dazzling technical virtuosity, and he executes the balancing act of remixing with such assured command that the originals often look flat and bland by comparison.
If there’s one serious flaw to be found in Everything Remixed, it’s that none of the nine producers featured on the album can really match Lido. That’s not to say they’re bad remixes – doing justice to a sound as atomized and intricate as Lido’s would be a tall order for anyone, including the man himself. But, the remixes don’t quite fully achieve the scope and dynamism of the songs upon which they aim to build.
Most of the nine remixes are live edits. Jaykode and Dan Farber each make a strong showing on their versions of “Angel,” but both of their efforts feel a bit predictable, and safe. Alison Wonderland and Umru fare even better on their flips of “Crazy” and “Citi Bike,” respectively. While neither are especially groundbreaking, they turn Lido’s dense scores into muscular festival weapons that manage to both rattle teeth and still maintain consistency with the vibe and tone of the originals.
More interesting are the re-imaginings. Minnesota breathes some life into the monochromatic bass of “So Cold,” fitting it atop a more consistent groove and throwing in some truly inspired synth top lines. Brasstracks come closest to Lido’s level of complexity as they work their magic on “Crazy,” trading tempestuous angst for colorful horns and a bouncy, glitchy beat. The outfit’s jazzier tendencies bring some much needed levity to contrast the self-serious melodrama that plagued Everything, and their festive contribution is fun from start to finish. The most engaging remix, however, comes from Brooklyn producer Soft Glas, who spins ‘Crazy’ into a contemplative but surprisingly uplifting slow jam. This artist surrounds the turmoil of the original with a rich bed of warm, rounded sounds that soothe it, so that the lyrics seem calmer, reflective, even potent.
While these remixes may not match the craftsmanship of Everything, they certainly complement it dutifully. They help us approach the album from new angles, and they show the diversity of interpretation that can come out of one piece of work. They’re diverse and robust, and those looking for fun tunes to throw on party or workout playlist could do far, far worse.