Rebelution – Remixes EP
1.) Safe and Sound (Zion-I Remix)
2.) Other Side (Amplive Remix)
3.) Suffering (Remixed by and feat. Jacob Hemphill of SOJA)
4.) More Than Ever (Michael G)
5.) Bright SIde of Life (Yeti Beats ft. Junior Reid)
6.) So High (Remix)
The Pier Album Rating:
Record Label: 87 Music
Hailing from Santa Barbara, California, Rebelution has developed into the front runner for grassroots, independent and touring driven music groups representing the Cali-Reggae scene. Originally formed in 2004, members Eric Rachmany (vocals / guitar,) Rory Carey (keyboards,) Wesley Finley (drums,) and Marley D. Williams (bass) met in college, while residing in Isla Vista, a popular beachside community in Santa Barbara. It was there that the seeds to Rebelution’s future would be planted– and would instill their kick back, worry free vibes, catchy refrain, and optimistic, inspiring, and engaging music that would leave their listeners with the sense that they have the power to make this world a better place.
Rebelution’s Remix EP opens on the wrong foot with Zion-I’s less than stellar reworking of Safe and Sound, stripping away the track’s original California beach-side roots arrangement, in favor of some throwaway hip-hop beat, stuttering bass, and a synth line that I could swear was ripped off from the hook of Rob Thomas’s Lonely No More (please don’t ask me how I know that song; just accept it). Amplive is a talented producer, as the album’s next track reveals, but on this remix, the spark that makes most of his work so unique and musically inquisitive appears to have failed to catch fire. MC Zumi broaches the conversation with verse content covering little more than girls, marijuana, and beaches, which the original already covered pretty well.
Thankfully, it’s Amplive to the rescue on track two, a remix of Other Side, again stealing away the song’s reggae format in favor of electronica-tinted hip-hop, though this time the results are far more favorable. A tender piano loop carries the track through its original verses, as synth flourishes and buzz saw bass line opposite ends of the track. The new instrumentation complements Eric Rachmany’s original vocals surprisingly well, redeeming Amplive’s production credibility after the unimpressive Safe and Sound.
With the first third of the album dedicated to electro-hip hop, the second third is the domain of roots reggae champions Jacob Hemphill of Soja and Michael G of the Easy Star All-Stars, respectively. Instead of synthbass lines and drum loops, the two dub soldiers veer more towards traditional dub remixing techniques, stripping and rebuilding the songs’ original components, honing the subtlety of rearrangement, as opposed to complete reconstruction. Hemphill’s Suffering plays towards straightforward island roots reggae, delicately splashing a snare here and there with heavy reverb or allowing a smoky vocal snippet to slide beneath the mix, panning across the speakers. Michael G, on the other hand, takes the hard-line dub route, practically abandoning the original vocal line, as he allows fragments such as remember me and you to slip quietly towards the surface only to be buried by bubbling track delay. Michael G strips the rest of the track down to the drum and bass riddim, building and expanding upon the sonic landscape with fly by night production techniques, plucking isolated elements from the original and seamlessly re-introducing them to the mix before letting them recede into mere echoes.
Following Hemphill and Michael G’s dub excursions comes Yeti Beast’s dancehall goes crunk variation on Bright Side of Life. Featuring guest vocals from Junior Reid, the track’s grandiose horns soar, whilst Reid’s echo-heavy verses surround Rachmany’s original odes to optimism. Fun as the track may be, it is also easily forgettable. The bass does little to hit the sweet spots that make your head nod and the rest of the production leaves nothing truly memorable, though Reid’s verses do add a touch of originality to the otherwise staid production.
The album ends with Rebelution’s own remix of So High, a track built on cavernous reverb and 808 drumbeats. The song’s lazy, almost lurching riddim, complete with 90’s hip-hop fashioned synthesizers and flickering piano lines deliver the urge to get so high as Rachmany yearns.
Remix EP is far from a perfect attempt at a remix compilation, marred by a few unimpressive attempts at hip-hop re-imagining. Suffering and More Than Ever will certainly make a satisfying addition to any reggae fan’s iTunes library, especially those already partial to the work of SOJA or Easy Star All-Stars.
Written & Reviewed by: Chris Castro
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