Restless indie trio Alt-J return, once again to defy expectations with a reimagining of their Mercury nominated album Relaxer. Enter, Reduxer. It feels wrong to simple to call this a remix album – it is a collaborative project that has brought this Leeds band together with the world of mainstream and underground hip-hop, which they have so often credited as their inspiration.
By Katie Manning
Reduxer does present problems; it has the potential to come across as a cynical attempt by some mainstream indie boys at riding the coat tails of rappers into the hip-hop audience. However, the fundamental elements of hip-hop have been seeping their way into Alt-J’s music for a while, giving it the edge they are so well known for. Therefore this album did feel due. It is time to celebrate the diversity of music that influences them. And it definitely feels as though the production of this record was carefully curated, bringing in artists from all over the world who would best reflect the vibe of each song.
For instance, collaborating with Germany’s Kontra K on the second re-work of In Cold Blood. This song originally being the most recognisable ‘Alt-J’ sound on Relaxer with it’s stand out hook in the chorus, and big brass sound leads itself perfectly to a new interpretation. The addition of Kontra’s punchy, German rap over the recognisable synth only serves to heighten the Futurism around this already mechanical track.
Another re-vamped track that works for the best is OTG and Little Simz’s, 3WW. Simz rapping over the slippery guitar, fuses together the grit of grime with the ambient tack to add a powerful tension to the song.
Of course with this kind of experimentation there are bound to be hits and misses; some tracks like the bluesy Hit Me Like That Snare, and the delicate Adeline just better as they originally were. But you don’t have to be a die-hard Alt-J fan to appreciate this album, everyone involved has done well to make this something that can successfully stand alone from the original record. To share in the Alt-J’s creative journey, and see what they saw beyond Relaxer is an interesting listen – whether it was a glimpse into what’s next to come, or just a one-time passion project.
Reduxer is available to stream now.