25 of 2011’s Must Hear Downtempo Remixes [Best of 2011 Series]

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Greetings, children of the Internet! I am very pleased to introduce to you my very first year-end list for Salacious!

First off, a big thanks goes out to DJ Cal for being such a great guy and allowing me this opportunity. He is the reason why Salacious is and continues to be one of the highest-quality music blogs on the Web! So, a round of applause for him and all of my fellow contributing writers is most certainly in order.

I doubt anyone will notice this but I’ve changed my name from Screaming Face Mountain to Totem. I am not exactly sure why I got that name in the first place…it was the regrettable name of my band in high school. Don’t ask, it’s a long story.

So it’s about time I dropped that ridiculous moniker for something a bit more subdued; thus, I am totem.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy my top 25 “radiant remixes” of 2011!

Disclaimer: This list is merely a representation of my personal opinion. The following remixes are, in my consideration, the best of 2011. However, as with any best-of list, people are likely to be unsatisfied.

I will admit that my tastes tend to lean towards a more downtempo, left-field side of electronica. With this list I simply want to expose a variety of remixes that, for the most part, flew under the radar this year yet are still very deserving of your attention.

Finally, I would love to hear what everyone has to say and whether they hate it, love it, or sit somewhere in between!

25. Keep Shelly In Athens – Our Own Dream (Blackbird Blackbird Remix)

24. CFCF – Cometrue (Physical Therapy Deep Forest Mix)

23. Harald Grosskopf – Synthesist (Blondes Remix)

22. Smith Westerns – End of the Night (Peaking Lights Remix)

21. Sleep ∞ Over – Romantic Streams (Balam Acab Remix)

20. Keep Shelly In Athens – Running Out Of You (Solar Bears Remix)

19. Solar Bears – Dream Valley (Young Montana Rework)

18. Florence + The Machine – Shake It Out (The Weeknd Remix)

17. papercranes – Dust Season (Javelin Remix)

16. Radiohead – Little By Little (Caribou Remix)

15. R/D – Popping Stars (Biclops Remix)

14. Blonde Redhead – Penny Sparkle (Salem Remix)

13. Miracle Fortress – Raw Spectacle (Diamond Rings Remix)

12. Becoming Real – Closer (Pictureplanes No Body Remix)

11. Alicia Keys – Unthinkable (PHYSICAL THERAPY REAL HEAVY VIBE)

10. Toro Y Moi – New Beat (Fare Soldi CantaTu rmx)

There’s nothing better than some swanky Italo-disco to get your feet movin’ and your heart poundin’. This track off chillwave producer Toro Y Moi’s latest release Underneath the Pine receives a much needed renovation from the Italian duo Fare Soldi. The track is bolstered with new energy and a reinvorigating sizzle that could only come from Italy. Why can’t all chillwave sound like this?

9. Rainbow Arabia – Without You (Nguzunguzu Remix)

I can think of no better descriptor of L.A. duo Nguzunguzu’s music than “tribal bass”. Care to know what that sounds like? Just listen to this remix of Rainbow Arabia’s synthy single “Without You”.

The great feat of this track is Nguzunguzu’s ability to blend elements of UK bass music and African drum patterns together with such ease and grace. They manipulate the jaunty tom rhythm that underpins the original, speed it up and propel it into the foreground. Then, they throw in some kalimba, 808 snare claps, and a thumping bass rhythm.

What does that give you? A cutting-edge drum circle.

8. Esben and the Witch – Chorea (Stay+ Remix)

Bloodshot eyes, narcotic binges, bleak urban landscapes, and bleary late night dancefloor mayhem lie at the very core of this mysterious Manchester duo’s remix of Esben & The Witch’s “Chorea”.

The latter band’s gothic sound is the perfect medium for Stay +’s (formerly known as Christian AIDS) brand of dark, blasted rave. The track opens with a ghostly wail from Esben & The Witch singer Rachel Davies before diving into a foreboding and fuzzed-out synth line. Then 1:14 hits and your body relinquishes; everything after that is a just a hazy blur.

7. Cold War Kids – Mine Is Yours (Passion Pit Remix)

So, I don’t know if anyone here is into Cold War Kids (I’m not sure if anyone is anymore) but after the blog buzz surrounding their debut album “Robbers & Cowards”, it seems that the quality of their music has slipped into a downward spiral.

Anyways, the point is: “Mine Is Yours” was a crappy song until Michael Angelakos and the Passion Pit boys got their hands on it. Yes, this is the familiar sugary sweet electro-pop we have come to expect from “Pashy Pit” but what makes this remix so special is the complete transformation that takes place.

What began as a dull and hokey indie snoozefest becomes a soaring, jubilant pop anthem.

6. Tyler The Creator – Seven (James Pants Remix)

OFWGKTA bitches!! It seems that 2011 will go down as the year it became cool to eat cockroaches, rap about raping women and get so high that your fingernails fall off (Thank you Tyler, The Creator).

No matter what you think of Tyler and all his shenanigans, it’s safe to say that the kid has some pretty good taste when it comes to electronic music. His confession of love for Stones Throw recording artist James Pants certainly took me by surprise as I am sure it did for many other people. In regards to his appreciation for Pants, Tyler professes: “He’s awesome, he’s white and he makes real ass n***a music”, and I must say, that is a pretty spot-on description.

I don’t know what you think but in my humble opinion, those relentless drum pounds, warped slo-mo vocals, and especially, that sexy saxophone solo are way more bad-ass than any vulgar rhymes will ever be.

5. Britney Spears – Till the World Ends (White Sea Extended Club Remix)

Britney’s homage to euro club music and smash hit single “Till the World Ends”  was everywhere this year. There were times when I felt like I couldn’t leave my house without hearing it on someone’s radio or blasting from the speakers of a nearby car. And that’s not to mention the countless remixes that made their way onto everyone’s party playlists.

So hey, I can’t blame you if you’re sick of this track or the multitude of remixes that followed in its path. Nonetheless, out of all the Britney remixes I heard this year there was one that stood out above the rest. White Sea’s (solo project of M83 member Morgan Kibby) rework of Till the End Worlds is so chock-full of euphoria that your serotonin levels could increase dangerously.

4. Solar Bears – Cub (Keep Shelly In Athens Remix)

Wow, 2011 was quite the breakout year for Grecian duo Keep Shelly In Athens. Their gorgeous blend of loungey, chillout ambience and Balearic pop is sublime, to say the least. This is Euro electronica at its classiest. I mean, you could totally play this stuff at a fancy dinner party!

But KSiA’s remix of Solar Bears “Cub” is much more than just background music. It begins with what sounds like a detuned Chinese harp that is gradually losing its pitch. It twangs and bends for a few final seconds before 0:23 hits and the floodgates open. A wash of heavenly sound overwhelms you as the pitch-shifted harp writhes beneath the surface. Then the soft but steady rhythm works its way into the mix amongst a cooing female vocal sample and shimmering synth splashes.

It’s a miracle.

3. Lady Gaga – Monster (Indigo Buntings PANORAMIC Juke Bootleg)

This remix of Lady Gaga’s chart-topper “Monster” was my first introduction to the work of 18-year old Wichita, Kansas native Zach White. His adoption of the frenetic Chicago Juke sound is astounding for such a young lad, especially one who is from Wichita. He’s got the chops and this monumental remix is more than enough proof.

Yet again, we witness the power of the chopped and screwed vocals (Lady Gaga actually sounds like a monster!). However, it’s the disorienting Juke drum patterns that truly completes this track.

We better keep an eye on Indigo Bunting now that he has proven he can roll with the big dawgs. This ain’t no beginner level s**t. This is a Ghetto House masterpiece.

2. Fela Kuti – No Possible (Joystick Jay’s Vulgar Distractions Edit)

I have to admit, I don’t know much about Joystick Jay other than the fact that he’s a DJ from Oslo who takes old funk/soul classics and converts them into groovy disco jams. The idea of giving Afro-beat legend Fela Kuti’s “No Possible” a disco make-over is so simple and  brilliant, it’s hard to believe that Fela’s entire catalogue hasn’t already received the disco treatment (get on that Joystick Jay!)

Oh well, I guess I’ll just listen to this track over and over again before that happens. No really, that funky rhythmic guitar with the chiming organ and the thumping four-on-the-floor drum beat is just so perfect you could listen to this track on repeat without getting bored.

Something about it just exudes comfort. Maybe it’s the fluidity of the rhythms and concordance of the melodies that make this track so damn satisfying. Hmm well, what I am sure of is that this is the grooviest disco I’ve ever heard.

1. Adele and Jamie xx – Rolling In the Heat (The Heatwave Refix) feat. Cecile + Mr. Lexx + and Timberlee

Let’s face it, 2011 was the year of Adele, and Jamie xx. Adele’s “Rolling In the Deep” was the most ubiquitous single of the year. I know because I had to listen it to about 4,764 times (that’s just an estimation, it was probably more) and I grew to hate it even more with each listen.

Obviously, this isn’t about Adele, it’s about Jamie Smith, beat maestro behind London outfit The xx. It seems as though any track Jamie touches turns to gold. Last year’s xx remix of Florence + The Machine’s “You’ve Got the Love” topped everyone’s list. Now, this year he’s gone and snatched another female UK singer/songwriter’s single and transformed it into something completely unique and outstanding.

I never thought I would grow to like any version of “Rolling In the Deep” but thanks to Jamie xx, it happened. This refix, courtesy of the Heatwave crew flips Adele’s original on its head and completely transforms it into a Jamaican dancehall banger.

It begins simple enough, Adele’s vocals riding atop a hand-clap shuffle and bass drum thuds. But once that steel-drum hits, you know you’re in for something different.

The addition of Ce’cile, Mr. Lexx, and Timberlee provide Jamie’s shuffle with some snappy, ferocious vocals and a surprising twist on an already astounding remix. The integration of the New Orleans folk song “Iko Iko” sample fits in excellently and adds to the whole Caribbean vibe.

Picking up where the Jamie xx shuffle left off, the Heatwave Refix brings “Rolling In the Deep” to new (tropical) heights. Whereas, “Rolling In the Deep” grew worse with each listen, “Rolling In the Heat” grows better with each listen. #steeldrums  #2k11

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