Fybe:one Harp Remixes
As a general rule, remix EPs are fairly worthless, little more than hackneyed attempts by artists or labels to squeeze some extra life out of tunes that have often worn out their welcome already. Obviously, this doesn't hold true across the board, but it's no stretch to say that these kinds of releases don't have a sparkling track record. Fybe:one's Harp Remixes EP likely won't do much to change that perception, but with a tracklist that includes a whopping 12 new reworks, it does have one thing going for it: no one can claim that the record is a half-hearted effort.
Considering that the original Harp EP didn't exactly make a huge splash, it's mildly surprising that the Shades of Grey camp would invest so much time in putting together this collection of remixes. Clearly, those behind the club-night-turned-label truly believe in the UK producer and his music; otherwise, it's unlikely they would have bothered reaching out to such a wide array of artists from across the musical spectrum.
While most of the remixes could be lumped into the worlds of so-called "beat" and "bass" music, there's a lot of variety to be heard on Harp Remixes. Each of the original EP's six tracks is remixed twice, the first entry being Troy Gunner's rework of "Aeolian." The song's lurching, hip-hoppy beats are offset by sluggish synth stabs and a ghostly piano melody. A much different approach is taken by Blacksmif, who builds his take around a deconstructed 2-step rhythm, clacking drums, a meandering saxophone, and melancholy vocal snippets. It's one of the stronger cuts on the EP, as is Jamie Wilder's take on "Kora," which weaves together videogame blips, tweaked vocal fragments, Balearic melodies, and crackling percussion to dreamy effect. Soosh also takes a turn with "Kora," and while his thoughtful spirit and plinking percussion are pleasant, it doesn't quite hold up to Wilder's version.
Mute Speaker doesn't shy away from hip-hop when constructing his remix of "Suffocate," as he combines warbling synths and potent female vocal bits with some knocking drum sounds. Less successful is Warsnare's EP-closing spin on the song, an effort full of blaring mid-range synths and hyperactive songwriting that veers way too far into mediocre dubstep territory. Chesslo Junior is another remixer who perhaps should have considered a more restrained tack; his rework of "So What" offers vaguely electro-funk synths over clubby rap beats, but is ultimately unremarkable. The song does better in the hands of Aether, who effectively layers pillowy melodies over an off-kilter rhythm.
Another EP standout is Capes' remix of "Harmonic Curve." The tight, clap-heavy drum programming is compelling on its own, but combined with drifting synth chords and a particularly potent violin melody, it's unstoppable. Deft's take isn't bad either, evolving from a heady, stop-and-start number to a groovy house cut over the course of nearly six minutes. More lively is the entry from 10-David, who transforms "Enclosed" into a pleasantly bouncy—albeit forgettable—few minutes of pop-minded electronics. The song is also reworked by Shades of Grey co-founder Duct, who builds a sturdy foundation of clattering garage drums and fills out the production with a rubbery bassline, emotive vocal snippets, and a bit of dramatic flair. Like most of the EP, it's quite well produced, but the track undeniably loses steam toward the end of its run.
Taken as a whole, Harp Remixes isn't likely to make any major waves. That's not a testament to the quality of the music, as the EP certainly has numerous highlights. It's just that with such a variety of sounds and scenes being presented, it doesn't present a cohesive vision of exactly what Fybe:one, or even Shades of Grey, is all about. If anything, it's most effective as a showcase of up-and-coming producers. Viewed through that lens, the EP is a success, as it shines a light on a handful of beatmakers who will undoubtedly be worth watching in the months and years ahead.
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