We’ve been waiting for a Remix EP from Opiuo since April, when he clued us into the idea as a second venture on his fledgeling Slurp Music label. Meraki Remixed incorporates an assemblage of external producers, (no VIP from Opiuo) who draw and quarter original stems from the funk heavy Meraki in every direction, destroying the continuity of the record with a laundry list of re-figured arrangements: heavy dance tracks to esoteric glitch and everything in between.
I can only assume contributing artists were given freedom of track selection in the Meraki Remixed effort, the tracklist is no mirror of the original. “Spuzzle Bucket”, Ladies”and “Misty Digit” were passed over, (apologies to fans of these tracks), and there are some “doubles”: “Life” was done up by KOAN Sound, DJ Vadim, and K-Lab, “Chubby Putty” by Mr. Bill and Griff, “On Your Side”, is re-imagined by both original collaborator Russ Liquid, and the incoming Funk Hunters.
Far from playing any single track out, these “double” cuts intrigue, demonstrating a real range of possibilities. In the case of “On Your Side”, Russ takes the track down, to an even sludgier swing, emphasized with his signature horns. On their side, the The Funk Hunters turn the slow number to a livey tempo and add an original synth line which pushes the track toward future funk.
Opiuo’s stems, the raw material from the Meraki originals that belies all these new production are certainly unique. The man has a particular personality that has resonated with listeners the world over, providing for his success as an international act, despite producing in a “genre” not strictly popular with the masses. Thus, this remix LP is one of the first major productions of its kind, one of the first times we see a renowned glitch-funk-IDM personality throw a full length project to his well-bred “dogs” for reworking.
You must forgive all these destruction metaphors, they just seem to fit, it’s not to say contributors have done the Meraki originals injustice, only to illustrate the degree to which the unified album has been fragmented. Gone is the dance-friendly aesthetic and structural continuity Opiuo achieved on Meraki, we have tracks that go every which way- club tracks, esoteric glitch, drum and bass, the works.
One resolute facet of the album is comprised of Griff, Mr. Bill, K-Lab, and Spoonbill, representing Aussie glitch flavor. In the Meraki Remixes, the Aussies re-institute intestine knotting glitches and ether-addled logic which characterized some earlier Opiuo constructions and was hammered out on Meraki to make the record a bit more palatable for those who find glitchy music, well, confusing. Griff and Mr. Bill’s renditions of “Chubby Putty” are especially exceptional. Each producer reworks the relationship between the two formerly segregated Opiuo and Beats Antique lines to function in tandem. To me, these tracks feature (somewhat convoluted) progressions to specific relationship with the original stem phrases: the listeners reward is in the final reconstructions. Griff and Spoonbill stumble, stagger, and slip in their respective arrangements of “Chubby Putty” and “Quack Fat”, yet each manages to provide sufficient proof by the end that I’ve heard themes from the originals, somewhere in all the ether. Regardless of utilizing a familiar intro, Bill Day prolongs any direct familiarity in his contribution, until he works into the “Chubby Putty” sequence into the final break. Any moment before then, and I would’ve placed the track as an original from his latest IRL.
In terms of “sense”, the Meraki Remixes also boast new versions of Opiuo tracks rearranged to greater coherency in classic tech/electrohouse grooves. The Lunar Sound remix of “La Fong” retains the bass undulations from the original on a heavy string, complimenting snappy disco percussion. A similar effect is achieved as D-Sens, an original collaborator on “La Fong”, takes a stab at “Clumpy Cider”. He cuts the jive of the central phrase, (along with the woodblock, sadly) and we’re left with bare synthesizers grinding on a mechanical rhythm track laid over the deep tones he brought to “La Fong.” Later, in the most radical flip on the album, John Clayton turns “It Was” from introspective lamentation to bouncy breaks track.
Otherwise, beyond the old, funky sludge and this deep new electro, we’re left with Posij’s drum and bass rendition of “Snorkle” and KOAN Sound’s touch on “Life.” This one has been a while coming. Years back, history is made when KOAN reaches to Opiuo to include a remix of “Sly Fox”, on 2012’s Adventure s of Mr. Fox. Releasing on OWSLA, KOAN clued the states into emerging glitch hop, and this “Sly Fox” connection with Opiuo worked further, as bridge between the UK and Australian theaters of war, exposing unaware listeners to these distinct, simultaneously thriving scenes.
It’s taken a while for KOAN to reciprocate the remix favor, which they do here, on “Life.” Contrary to a slight trend in KOAN’s recent Sanctuary and Dynasty EPs to an increasingly “Asiatic” sound, their “Life” remix has more of what I remember from classic New York hip hop, melodic instrumentals with that dreamy, ethereal sound Pete Rock and Premier birthed, Dilla perfected, and KOAN now infuses with a neuro edge.
Altogether, what I remember most about Opiuo’s original Meraki LP was his commitment to progression on each track, as well as the continuity between them, a synchronicity for the album beyond his first LP, Slurp and Giggle. If, then, Meraki exists as the product of Opiuo’s major constructive effort to build and organize a comprehensive “whole” album, these Remixes are their antithesis, an ultimate deconstruction. Isn’t that the entire art of remix though? You’re given the formula, to tear apart, and make something that sounds both good, and nothing like the original. Anyway, our result here is this wonderfully diverse and fragmented collection of tracks laced with familiar echoes from Opiuo’s oldest work, recent accents from his latest production stems and new sounds from fellow producers that may just foretell where this whole Slurp Music mess is headed in the months and years to come.
Electronic music is the only art form that has given me unrelenting hope for the survival of our species. I study criticism in the north country and track the scene in an effort to put to words the familiar feelings that escape most of us and are reduced to terms of “awesomeness.”