Portable Albatross Remixes
Portable's "Albatross" has aged well—well enough to forestall questions about why the song, which opened Alan Abrahams' 2007 album Powers of Ten, is sprouting remixes from big underground names Kowton and Anthony "Shake" Shakir six years after its release. When it comes to sculpted, polyrhythmic propulsion, neither Bristol's nor Detroit's finest can top Portable's stuttering original, and only Shakir reckons with Abrahams' benumbed, goony techno-pop vocals. Both remixers trade in a few degrees of detail for a more direct conduit to listeners' bodies. The net effect may emphasize the individuality of Portable's music, but it doesn't come at the expense of the remixes. In truth, everyone involved comes out looking pretty good.
Shakir extrapolates the original's subtle, spring-loaded tension, creating a malfunctioning, warrenlike control room of a remix. Beset by enough glitches to sound like someone spilled water on a keyboard, the Detroit veteran's take is fleshed out with smears of Abraham's voice. The remix's live-wire central riff could've emanated from the cheap speaker embedded in a plastic ray gun. It's wild—especially against the more conventional, albeit rundown, sway of flashing pads—and it's impressive to listen to the whole thing gingerly hang together, straining to explode into a soggy mess.
Kowton's remix, by contrast, is typically focused, as he summarizes "Albatross" pretty shrewdly. For him, it's all about the way the generously paced melody and scampering cowbells slide over one another while his itchy drum-machine voodoo works against belching low end and submarine noises. It's expected, to be sure, but no less effective for it.
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