The remix album is so often abused as a potential sales generator, but in the right hands it can shed new light on an artists body of work and introduce the listener to a group of new artists. Brazilian singer and producer Bebel Gilberto is a good choice for such a treatment, despite having only two big albums to her name. Those two are true heavyweights however, Tanto Tempo introducing her worldwide, and her self titled follow-up topping world music charts for Amazon and iTunes. Her music seems to be extremely flexible, her beguiling voice speaking for itself.
A measure of the high regard in which the vocals are held is found in the lack of willingness among the remixers to tamper with them. By leaving them unaltered it offers the ideal chance to appraise their own musical creativity as they spin the music around the vocal melody.
A mixture of styles takes in faster club music and slower, early morning material. Uplifting house is Grant Nelson‘s thing, and his mix of River Song has been popular for some time among DJs from Defected and Slip’n’Slide. Here it makes a winning last track, bound for the party. Tom Middleton also specialises in a bit of ass shaking funk, and his take on Simplesmente uses Gilberto’s cooing vocal over a wandering bass and broken beats to good effect.
As we all know sometimes less is more, and Guy Sigsworth demonstrates in an agreeably mellow mix of O Caminho. Sigsworth also co-wrote Cada Beijo, taken on here by the ever excellent Thievery Corporation in a light samba. Spiritual South opt for a darker path on their mix of Aganju, delving into an electronic style. Deeper still is the fine remix of Winter by Finland’s Nu Spirit Helsinki. Their string arrangements are almost painfully sublime, taking over from Bebel’s vocal. Steve Hillier, whose name you may recognise as the man behind production for Dubstar, produces a gorgeously indulgent mix of Next To You, setting things up nicely for a Brazilian take on Every Day You’ve Been Away. The strangely named Yam Who?, meanwhile, exploit the soft melancholy of Baby.
You’ll have gathered from all that the amazing variety found through this album. Whilst recognisably Gilberto’s work it’s pleasing to note how much work has gone into these remixes. Not for them the lure of the cash machine – the music remains the priority, as it always should in an ideal world.