I mean, sure, an entire album of remixes can be nothing more than a cash grab or career holding pattern or or third-party opportunism. But at their best remix albums can add fascinating new facets to an existing artistic expression as filtered through others’ musical imaginations and predilections. Plus it ain’t exactly 2002 anymore so no one’s selling millions of CDs anymore, remixes or otherwise, I’m lookin’ at you Linkin Park! (RIP Chester B.)
Anyway you can bet French literary theorist Roland Barthes woulda loved how remix albums subvert the very notion that a given work of art has a singular point-of-view or a single decipherable meaning, instead existing in "a space of many dimensions" with each "original" artwork "made out of a tissue of citations." (I’m quoting directly from "The Death of the Author" here, obviously!) Or, to put it another way, the art of the remix "resist[s] the ways that genres normatively operate as straight lines of descent from musical forebears, instead engaging in a queer kind of reproduction, a joyful excess of proliferating versions" which is exactly how Lil Nas X would put it no doubt.
What’s more, remixes subvert the strict dividing line between "originals" and "covers" because they’re some of both and not entirely either and that’s pretty dang "queer" too in the non-pejorative sense.
And if this all sounds a bit highbrow, don’t worry, it’s not really because "remix culture" is totally commonplace these days (no French literary theory required!) whether applying filters to photos, rearranging music into playlists, throwing memes into everyday conversation, making chroeographed Billie Eilish response videos, or taking the latest viral challenge on TikTok (yeah don’t even pretend you didn’t nearly bite the bullet from tripping on nugmeg back in 2020) and thus "remixing" has become smaller and more scaled down as it’s become a common feature of our mundane daily lives.
And when it comes to this "scaling down" maybe that’s why remix EPs seem to be all the rage these days, pretty much overtaking the full-on remix album, with three recent examples being Adeline’s Adi Oasis (Remixes) and Beau’s Forever (and more) and Lapeche’s Spirit Bunnies (Remixes) each comprised of 3 or 4 remixed songs. And with this in mind could it be a mere coincidence that the EP format itself, much like the remix, occupies a vaguely defined middle ground, half-way between stand-alone singles (A-side plus B-side) vs. long-paying full-on-artistic-statements album? (well OK it could be mere coincidence, but I prefer conspiracy theories!)
Anyway, speaking of going outside the constraints of black-and-white either/or categories, Adeline a.k.a. Adeline Michèle is a French-Caribbean bass-playing record-producing multi-instrumentalist-and-vocalist wunderkind who moved to NYC from Paris when she was only 18 to make it as a musician and then did just that—first by playing in the house band for NBC’s Meredith Vieira Show which led to her touring with CeeLo Green, later taking on bass and vocal duties for nü-disco party starters Escort and then releasing of her debut solo LP plus two EPs, the first of which being INTÉRIMES—"it’s title a mashup of the French words "intérim" (the time in between) and "rime" (French for rhyme)…with each track captur[ing] a specific mood as a days turns into night"—an EP which already received its own remix treatment and truly who’s better qualifitied to be releasing remix EPs left-and-right because Adeline is fascinatingly betwixt-and-between in so many ways—seemingly covering all the bases and all the stages in her musical journey at once.
And wouldn’t you know it a song called “Stages” is the first track on the original unremixed version of Adi Oasis and it’s a groovy, deceptively laid back sounding song about getting your groove back during not at all laid back times. And it gets the remix treatment not once but twice on the four-track Adi Oasis (Remixes) and how fitting for a song that’s all about transformation with its lyrics touching on the transcendence of playing music live on stage, and the stage shen went through (along with many others) of not being able to play live on stage but retreating to the studio instead with a music video that features Adeline overcoming these conditions, doing push-ups on the Brooklyn pavement and pull-ups on corner lampposts all while decked out in a leopard-print catsuit.
And then there’s the (not so) little matter of overcoming systemic bias in the music industry that "Stages" also deals with ultimately arriving at a final thereapuetic stage of self-reliance (just gonna do me / don’t need nobody […] to tell me / how to lay my bass down) but not without transcending this state of isolation with the support of allies like guest vocalist KAMAUU (treat her like your Muva or she’ll have to beat / your ass like she’s your Daddy) who returns the favor for Adeline’s production work and vocal feature on his 2020 mega-hit “Mango" and damn, so many levels! (and speaking of levels don’t ask me what happened with the crazy block of random characters above, but I’m just gonna roll with it because they don’t seem to be erasable and this is a pretty crazy blog entry anyway…)
Both the remixers of “Stages” wisely keep the emphasis on Adeline’s Bootsy-worthy bass part but otherwise they go in two opposite directions. First, the British four-piece Yakul strips away just about everything but the bass and vocals which are baked into a musical brownie of gooey, woozy keyboards and a shuffling beat that only amplifies the Zen self-contained contentment of a line like “just gonna do me, don’t need nobody” as a spacey exploration into inner space. Meanwhile the remix by Natasha Diggs is the extroverted version, jacking up the tempo considerably with a thumping house beat that gives a boost to the self-empowerment theme not to mention being a gift to aerobics instructors everywhere.
This leaves two more remixes on the EP—one being the lead-off track, a remix of "Maintain" by Australian-Germanic DJ/producer Jafunk who plays up the blunted out housebound escapism depicted in the lyrics (gotta meditate / gotta wash my face / gotta get out this place / gotta smoke a J / can’t go out anyway) with Adeline’s rubbery bass pushed up in the mix alongside a new four-on-the-floor beat and syncopated guitar vamping and a keyboard solo with a phat funky Moog sound that should get your funky fatty shaking. And then finally there’s the penultimate track, a remix by Soul Clap that puts an electro-house-acid-jazz-cocktail-hour spin on the Barry White-worthy “Mystic Lover” complete with newly introduced horn charts and flute solo.
But whatever your feelings may be on remixes and/or EPs in the end these are all just useful delivery mechanisms for a bunch of nice, smooth tunes so my final piece of advice to you, dear reader, is that you "butter" check out these three EPs because they’ll get you "churnt up" for sure [end scene, curtain and bow]. (Jason Lee)