Fort Knox Five: Reminted

[4 April 2007]

By Mike Schiller

Why do I love Fort Knox Five’s latest remix/DJ mix compilation?  Because there’s nothing more fun than a good dance club.

You see, the DJ at a good club inspires dancing, but it does so by using music that goes beyond the pervasive bass tones and misogynist sentiments of typical teenbopper dance club fare.  A good club has better food than pretzels and peanuts in plastic bowls.  And a good club does not stop the party until everyone is flung over a table, chair, or coatrack in a state of pure euphoric exhaustion.  This is exactly the type of atmosphere that Fort Knox Five provides with Reminted, yet another reminder of just why the Five is one of the most impressive production teams in the game.

No, your CD tray is not going to spit out a porcelain dish of paté, and you’ll certainly need more than just this one CD (at the very least, you’ll need working knowledge of your CD player’s ‘repeat’ function) to open your own club.  The point I’m trying to make, however, is that Fort Knox Five knows how to provide something over and beyond the run-of-the-mill dance remix experience.  The incorporation of actual live instrumentation into the remixes gives the package as a whole a unified, unabashedly funky sound, and the digital production savvy makes transitions from one track to the next utterly seamless, as though a mood shift is taking place rather than a song change.  Subtle changes in the approach are used when remixing hip-hop, R&B, and (because, y’know, what the hell) mambo, but no matter what the genre of origin, every track is ultimately transformed into a grand dance-funk masterpiece.

Wasting no time in showing us just what they are capable of, the Five (which actually consists of four members) go right ahead and update Tito Puente’s mambo classic “Ran Kan Kan” for the 21st century, giving it an electronic backbeat, bonus wah guitars, and a beefed-up bassline, all while retaining the spirit (not to mention the distinctive horns) of the original.  Where the true genius of the Five appears, however, is in melding “Ran Kan Kan” to Nickodemus’ “Give the Drummer Some”, given that the latter song is built on a hip-hop beat with a swing.  And yet, listening to the album for the first time, you simply do not hear the transition.  It just sort of happens.  Sure, it helps that Nickodemus’ song features a few horn lines that sound like they could have come right out of “Ran Kan Kan”, but Fort Knox Five surely deserves points for recognizing this and inferring, then, that the two songs would sound great together.  That Nickodemus himself actually sounds like he’s rapping on-beat (a feat he doesn’t quite manage on the original) only adds to the impressive feats of production.

Plenty of other unknowns and somewhat-knowns spice up Reminted—Skeewiff provides the uplifting and well-sung sentiments of “Now I’m Living for Me”, the Five funks out the disco leanings of Kraak & Smaak’s “One of These Days”, and any compilation that features songwriter/producer extraordinaire Dr. Luke’s Prince impression (on Ursula 1000’s fabulous “Electrik Boogie”) is OK with me.

That Fort Knox Five can wrap all of these sounds and styles into such a consistent, dancefloor-friendly package shows not only serious instrumental and production skills, but a remarkable consistency of vision.  There’s not a single cooldown track here, nothing to calm the energy that Fort Knox Five exude from the very first moment of the very first track; Reminted is 12 Red Bulls (half of them cut with vodka) giving you the wings to dance ‘til you’re kicked out of the club.

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