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  • Filed under: Review
  • 12/03/2012

Tomas Barfod November Skies EP

Tomas Barfod released his debut solo full-length, Salton Sea, earlier this year, but 2012 has also seen several sub-releases centered around single tracks from the album, like "Broken Glass" (which actually preceded the LP) and "Came To Party." The latest Salton Sea spinoff is a bundle of remixes of "November Skies," a pop-leaning, house-oriented number featuring the soaring vocals of Stockholm's Nina Kinert. The Danish producer's original track drew its strength from a crisp beat, Kinert's husky singing, and pristine hooks—but the artists Barfod drafted to remix the tune have molded it into more leftfield and alien forms.

For instance, Copenhagen-based Sekuoia slows the original song's galloping rhythm into a halftime clomp, transforming Kinert's full-throated wails into syrupy sighs and patient, baleful crooning. The surging synths on Sekuoia's version are pulled from the textbook of lush post-dubstep production, even moreso than the elements employed by bass duo Sepalcure. The pair's take aims for a stark darkness born from booming drum hits, which eventually subsume Kinert's vocals. This sets the remix apart from past Sepalcure efforts like "Every Day of My Life," "See Me Feel Me," and "The One," all of which prominently displayed brassy vocals amidst a fog of cushiony low end.

While Sepalcure explores the territory beyond the bounds of its usual signifiers, the remix by Barfod's labelmate Jerome LOL is immediately recognizable as his handiwork, thanks to its shuffling jazz cymbals and tight house beat. Instead of going for moodier and sparser vibes, Jerome opts for a full and busy sound, building a chorus out of Kinert's vocals by layering them on top of each other, with each individual element having been pitched up or screwed down. But he doesn't play to the song's strengths; the original's clean and sharp aesthetic is muddied by all the layers, and the edited vocals sap Kinert's singing of its throaty beauty. Her voice on the original is beautiful—pitching it up to a whine as though she just sucked the helium out of a balloon makes her sound annoying.

Conversely, Berlin-based beatmaker Touchy Mob does away with Kinert's vocals almost completely, allowing twinkling synths and heavy-lidded percussion to take center stage. Over the course of seven minutes, his remix builds and builds, slowly drawing strangled cries out of the bulky rhythm. Kinert's lyrics only appear at the very end of Touchy Mob's rework, at which point they're recited with a breathy, vocoded tinge. Nite Jewel also elects to edit the vocals, and her choice to screw Kinert's voice down a bit actually enhances its appealing huskiness, as it matches the moodier tone of the reworked and newly subdued beat, which Nite Jewel laces with delicate piano chords.

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