There's no need for a long history lesson here, but Josh Wink's Ovum imprint has released some stone-cold killers in its 20 years in business—and with a consistent back catalog to choose from, it's the label's 1998 release "Pop Culture" from Philadelphia's DJ Dozia that’s getting the re-issue love right now, via a quintet of remixes from a crop of artists who are among those running the show nowadays. Essentially, it's a snapshot of house music's evolution on the global stage: KiNK, Ambivalent, Phil Weeks and Joris Voorn all deliver respectful takes on the original's groove heavy, popping beats and slammin', raw-analog drive, with some of the new versions here sticking close to the original's strutting warehouse ethic, and others deviating from it just enough to pay homage through respectful tampering.
Rejected's Voorn keeps the original's raw jack alive, but takes a fresh path from the original by retaining its soaring, soulful Peech Boys acapella as its central trigger. He tones down the bubbling melodies, adds cymbal crashes and EQed oscillations, then heads into a skipping drive on the break. For his interpretation, Robsoul honcho and general bad boy Phil Weeks takes the shimmering rhythm and does away with the bouncing beat, injecting elements of acid and analog percussion into a raw and funky blend, only to gradually bleed the vocals and radar melodies into earshot around three minutes into the track.
Bulgarian master of innovation KiNK's rework is close to the original, but he's brought everything into a more minor-tone realm, adding murkiness and haziness to the track's opening bars while stripping the other elements away to reveal a looped 808 snare, meanwhile bending and squeezing the bleep melody into malleable shapes and sounds. Finally, Ambivalent brings two strikingly different remixes to the table. His Pop remix boasts decidedly more skip, swing and bounce than the original, while squelchy bass effects flutter in and out—it’s a more minimal, but highly jacked affair—while the Culture' version takes the track into entirely new realms. Led by a minimal, techy bassline, the track's bubbling groove is absent during the first bars, only to be gradually echoed among a mesh of pulsing sine-wave bass and, eventually, squelching acid.
A superb package that pays homage to a bona fide house classic, these 2015 remixes update the rugged edges of "Pop Culture" for a 21st-century audience of connoisseurs. As a bonus, the EP also comes loaded with the original and Size 9 remixes that set the dancefloors alight back in '98.