Musical talent must run thickly through the veins of the Rene siblings. Gabriel and Gina Rene, along with Andy Caldwell and turntablist Mei-Lwun Yee, form Soulstice, a San Francisco band known for their laidback beats, deep house, and drum’n’bass excursions. Their debut album, Illusion, made waves in dance music circles, leading to remixes by a whole host of prominent producers. Hence, Mixed Illusions. This remix disc mines the best songs on Illusion and angles them towards more dancefloor-friendly beats.
The freshest reworkings transform the original earthy, casual vibe into grungier, urban takes. Landslide’s take on “Fall into You” is a perfect example of this. The original track is a sublime, ethereal deep house tune; Landslide morphs this into a two-step tinged, percussive workout. By keeping the smooth washes of strings and adding grungy drones and an arresting, broken-up bassline, Landslide captures and extends the moment where rough beats and tender emotions meet. Soulstice themselves turn in a remix of “Lockdown”, turning it into an energetic two-step romp complete with bowel-shaking bass kicks and stuttered snare-bleep combination. Snatches of diva wailings play nicely above a sinuous bass line which winds its way amongst the array of synthetic noises. They also do a nice job rerubbing “Not Alone”, and the end result is a light, frantic drum’n’bass number with a warped bassline, choppy vocal snippets, and sci-fi laser sounds. Atjazz’s broken-beat spin on “Colour” is also noteworthy, all choppy rhythms, drifting vocals, and West London-esque cool.
The more laidback tunes in this collection are somewhat hit-or-miss. Instrumental innovator DJ Spinna disappoints with his take on “The Reason”, as he strips the song down into a thunking bass and minimal beats, leaving a funked-out track which leans too heavily towards heavy-handed acid jazz. Fila Brazilia fare slightly better with their remix of “Wind”, starting the track off slowly with lush string orchestration before opening into thick electric bass guitar work. J Boogie, on the other hand, nails his remix of “Illusion” with a dubby, Kruder & Dorfmeister style smoke-out, all laidback beats, scratching, and all-around laziness.
Illusions added some notable tracks to the deep house canon, and the house remixes on this disc certainly do justice to the originals. Johnny Fiasco adds a classy, sophisticated edge to “Lovely”; he gives ample attention to the lonesome horn solo rambling over top, allowing a cool vocal to drift over the throbbing, reverberating beats. Miguel Migs also contributes a cut, and his interpretation of “Fall into You” is certainly typical of his work for Naked Music Recordings. He adds a vaguely disco feel to this deep house gem, keeping the energy level consistent yet never excessive. Kevin Yost’s take on “Tenderly” is similarly successful. This tribal house cut pleases unfailingly with a brilliant combination of shuffling percussion, electronic bleeps, crashing cymbals, and strummed classical guitar. European house’s latest star, Pepe Bradock, proves his worth with his remix of the same song, but he captures a more party-rockin’ mode with sounds of falling water, live noise, yells, whoops, and hollers.
A nicely compiled set of remixes, Mixed Illusions will undoubtedly please fans of the original album. With such a notable list of producers turning in fine work, those interested in hearing Gina Rene’s lovely voice in a slightly different context will have a lovely time taking in these remixes.