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  • Filed under: Review
  • 05/25/2012

Illum Sphere Illum Sphere Remixed

Manchester's Illum Sphere probably doesn't need an EP of remixes just yet. Over the past three years, he's released a handful of EPs via Fat City, but with the exception of a enthusiastic co-sign from Ikonika, who inevitably turns up here, he doesn't have the kind of catalog or visibility that usually occasions a remix record. In addition, his production style is deliberately minor, part of an intercontinental set that mines Brainfeeder's precious ore of weeded-out head-bob beats and transparent 8-bit synths.

Illum Sphere's own tracks are made of darker stuff than those of his peers—dark, grimy, and weightless, they threaten to dissipate into a cloud of weed smoke as soon as he gets going. He's quick to double back on a groove or melody by muting a sound or hitting reset on the drums, giving the banging bits a provisional feel and the quieter ones a sense of inchoate potential. His remixers turn that quality to their best advantage, however, showing up with a pretty divergent set that speaks to the originals indirectly and secretly.

Nothing whiffs too badly in this set. Indeed, its least compelling track is still pretty good: the Scumbag remix of "One for Dimlite," which weaves bits of the untroubled and balmy Illum Sphere track through a creaky realm of fingerpicked R&B guitar, stuttering hi-hats, irregular bass-drum hits, the whole megillah of production techniques. Despite its deliberate incoherence, its wheezing synth melody casts a pleasantly melancholic, hesitant vibe over the track. Along with Dabrye's take on "An Old Escape," the Scumbag remix has the most in common with Illum's production style.

Ikonika's take on "Chasing the Midnight Moth" stands out more by recreating the bleary original in her own image. She reshapes the plinky melody, snapping everything to attention while retaining the prickly droning notes, and even adds a keening synth line that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Rustie's Glass Swords. Kidkanevil and Om Unit round things out, with a banger and some sweet bass sludge, respectively. While not particularly promising on paper, Remixed doesn't take long to validate its existence.

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