Remixes can take many forms. Back in the ‘80s, the standard approach was to beef up the beat and extend the instrumental break for an extra four minutes. In today’s world of powerful and readily available digital editing technology, the possibilities for remixing are multitudinous. This principle is put into action on Revisited by, a collection of DJ Cam’s singles mixed by other artists. So varied are the approaches on this disc, the term “remix” seems woefully outdated, undercutting the absolute transformations wrought here by the likes of Thievery Corporation, Kid Loco, J Dilla, and others. The thirteen cuts assembled here are reworkings at the very least; reconstructions, more often; in the album’s finest moments, reimaginings.
Normally, when I see three versions of the same track on one disc, I immediately assume that I’m going to get bored silly from hearing that same ol’ tune ad nauseum. Not so with the trio of reconfigurations of “Success”. Revisited by kicks off with two of these, sequenced back-to-back. But Kenny Dope’s mix bears virtually no resemblance to the Thievery Corporation version that follows. The former has a spare, shadowy, and jazz-tinged vibe, hypnotically following the same loping beat and vocal sample all the way through. Thievery Corporation works from a whole separate slice of the original. By the time they’ve added their patented pan-global flourishes, in this case consisting of a Latin American drum pattern and a sitar stab, they’ve found their own unique path to “Success”. Later on the album, Attica Blues moves yet another direction, utilizing splashes of the vocal mantra toward a more solidly instrumental hip-hop take, complete with turntable scratches and some sick jolts of synth.
Guests vocalists and MCs stir up the flavors on Revisited by, nudging the feel of the disc in new directions with varying approaches at handling a microphone. On the brooding and soulful “He’s Gone”, China turns in a deeply sexy performance on a horn-drenched trip-hop tune reminiscent of early Morcheeba. East Coast hip-hop duo Channel Live, as a marked contrast, rolls out its fast-paced rap assault, battering the mellow, chilled-out track that courses below. Regardless of your level of appreciation for the duo’s style (mine runs very low), there’s little doubt that the inclusion of Channel Live derails the otherwise gray-toned, cerebral mood of the album. The rap from Guru on “Espionage”, on the other hand, rises up more gracefully into the mix. His is smoother, and with a rhythmic bounce that flows well over the cheap, skronky synth burps and handclaps that keep the track running.
The remainder of the cuts on Revisited by fall somewhere in between the sonic bookends described, finding a home among the realms of down-tempo and abstract hip-hop. While none of the sounds here are the least bit groundbreaking, they are mostly quite tasteful. DJ Cam is a subtle master at blending elements of rap, jazz, R&B, and electronica into sweetly ominous nocturnal grooves. The artists collected here to reinterpret his works generally find the right piece of common ground upon which to build, although the coherence of the project is occasionally compromised. While these potholes in the flow detract from the potential enjoyment of the album, the stylistic range of the contributors to Revisited by demonstrates the breadth of influences that infuse the works of the remarkable DJ Cam.
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// Notes from the Road
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