There's XXYYXX's synth-heavy trap-leaning version of 'Echo The Sun', for instance, and also the lush, ghostly remix of 'A Terrible Machine' by Mister Lies. Likewise, London producer bo en sets off some seriously sweet fireworks for us in his remix of 'Paws'. Fortune Howl's original is a luscious, ballad-like number that swoons with vocal samples, warm synth waves and slow-dance drums. bo en's remix is very different.
Taking cues from a synth-heavy revival of Japan-exclusive genre Shibuya-kei (a mix of jazzy lounge sounds with traces of synthpop and lashings of pop energy), bo en - real name Calum Bowen - turns 'Paws' on its head and makes it his own. Beginning with a deliciously funky, 80s-themed intro, complete with some scene-setting slap bass, at once we're bowled into the nu-Shibuya-kei that bo en does best. Puffs of fidgety synth chords overlook a fast house kick as the original vocals float over in washes of reverb. At 0:55 he samples Yoshi's down+B move from Super Smash Bros. before launching into a candy-coloured world of modulating synths, squeaky bed sounds, claps, down-south hip hop snares and remnants of samples.
The rest of the song reads beautifully, a floating mist of the song's original vocals, a saxophone solo, wah-wah chords, samples of "Hey — hey!" all cradled by a rainy-night synth bassline and 80s drum machine beats. A classy yet magical finish, like a rendezvous with a high-class escort who turns out to be searching for someone to help her solve an existential, metaphysical mystery - you becoming the reluctant detective. It moves flawlessly between sugary sweet nu-Shibuya-kei and retro-infused sounds - a teapot brewing leaves of tea-breaks past - combining many different elements that on paper would seem barmy. Hip hop drums? A little known Japanese genre? Slap bass? 80s aesthetic? Videogame samples? Yep, all of that. But the way that Mr bo en melds these sounds into a cohesive, dynamic showstopper of a track that's as jaw-droppingly impressive as it is unabashedly enjoyable.
You should definitely check out Earthbound [Remixed] for your fix of totally fresh sounds. And a FREE DOWNLOAD. (The fact that the album and its original are named after one of my favourite ever games has no bearing on the matter).
Also, check out bo en's lovely debut album Pale Machine out on supernice Japanese netlabel Maltine Records - and download the whole thing for free.
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