DJ Koze's Amygdala is one of the most strangely comforting records of the year. Across its 13 tracks, Stefan Kozalla deals in a beautiful, fuzzy melancholia that seems to be made neither for the club nor headphones, but rather for soundtracking a session of collective weeping with friends at the occasional beauty of the world. Now, the album has been augmented with a new set of remixes from Matthew Herbert and Efdemin.
Back at the end of 2012, Kozalla turned in a well-received remix of Herbert's "It's Only," a version that has almost entirely eclipsed the original. Now, Herbert has reciprocated. His extended version of Amygdala highlight "Magical Boy" takes Koze's beautiful luxuriance and wrenches it into a 10-minute wander. In Herbert's hands, the track becomes much more narrative, inserting an entirely new vocal courtesy of Londoner Rahel. Her performance bears comparison with much of the cozy vocal neo-R&B that is so in vogue these days, with a gentle vibrato and a broad range. Song collaborator Matthew Dear and his subaquatic wobble carry over from the original as, in fact, does much of the remaining source material. Herbert's primary contribution here is one of extension, drawing out the twinkling lead samples on which the original is based, and yet his version lacks the focus that Koze managed to maintain over his seven-minute composition. Kozalla's track is louche, certainly, but it never meanders, winding itself tightly around its strung-out elements. Herbert's version, though, feels somewhat aimless, particularly in a final section that repeats the vocal hooks over an approximation of the original's wood-and-reverb percussion.
On the flip, deep-house stalwart Efdemin turns in a much more convincing take on "La Duquesa." His remix inverts Koze's pads, using them as a rough foundation to which he affixes pinging digital ornamentation. Where Herbert's effort attempts to add bombast, Efdemin is instead content to rely on the downbeat haze of Koze's original, adding the binary where so much of Amygdala felt proudly and roughly analog.
In truth, Amygdala doesn't really need remixing. It is such a singular record, one on which Kozalla's unique mark weighs so heavily, that new versions of the tracks seem superfluous. Efdemin's rework, though, succeeds because it doesn't stray that far from the delightful little aesthetic path that DJ Koze has already trodden.