Mop Mop – Lunar Love Remixed
(Agogo Records AR100V. 12” single/digital download - Review by Mark McKergow)
This collection is the latest release from Hannover-based Agogo Records, the outfit behind many interesting new developments on the edges of jazz, afro, funk and electronic dance music (EDM). The nine tracks here (four also issued on a 12” vinyl release) are remixes of last year’s Lunar Love album by Mop Mop, strongly featuring the gorgeously rich voice of British/Trinidadian poet Anthony Joseph, and are full of brooding atmosphere and intensity.
Mop Mop (real name Andrea Benini) is an Italian musician, producer and composer currently based in Berlin. His Mop Mop persona is, slightly unusually for this field, not simply as a one-man producer but also includes a regular group of fellow musicians - Alex Trebo on piano, Pasquale Mirra on vibraphone, Guglielmo Pagnozzi on sax, Bruno Briscik on bass and Danilo Mineo on percussion. Mop Mop’s Lunar Love album was released on Agogo Records in May 2016 and garnered a good deal of praise around the world.
However, this is not a review of that album. This is a collection of remixes based on tracks from Lunar Love, and so we get a whole other set of voices joining the picture. Each of the nine tracks here is the work of a different remixer – often a DJ/producer (the lines between those two fields are getting very blurred indeed) who takes the original material and transforms it into a new version. For those who haven’t heard a remix since the 1980’s 12” extended versions of tunes like Blue Monday, this is not merely an extension of the original, but instead a whole re-collaging of different elements which can change the whole feel of the track.
Remixers, for those finding their way into these avenues, alleys and snickets, are often to be found on Soundcloud, curating their recordings and output which can usually be streamed free and purchased for download (and perhaps subsequent mashing up, mixing and transforming again). And in keeping with this new ethos, the whole collection can be streamed free from the Agogo Records website (link above). In most cases here two remixers start from the same base track and produce strikingly different outputs.
Of these nine remixes lasting a total of 50 minutes, six feature the resonant vocalising of poet Anthony Joseph, and it’s Joseph’s voice which holds this collection together. Nicola Cruz’s mix of Totem makes a great opener, with Joseph intoning “To be born again” over distinctly African drums and woodwind. The same track in the hands of DJ Khalab mixes the vocals lower, starting almost trip-hop slow before doubling tempo and gathering momentum with hand drums.
Kalbata’s take on The Barber, enthusiastically premiered on Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide radio podcast, picks up a dance-friendly 125 beats per minute with dub elements of Joseph’s vocal echoing behind the main groove. Don’t DJ turns the same material into a sparse almost ambient drumscape with slightly off-time drums adding a lilt which becomes more and more hypnotic. The Serpent emits funky synth grooves and electro-drums from sUb_modU (perhaps my favourite track) with Joseph’s “Take the dark away, leave me the day” vocals well up.
Also featured are two remixes of Supreme featuring Nigerian vocalist Wayne Snow, whose lighter voice style makes for a good contrast with Anthony Joseph. Daisho shows a lightness of touch, flexing Snow’s vocals around marimbas, brass stabs and percussion into a flowing melange that carries us forwards. French DJ/producer Azaxx goes for a more free-form marimba workout emphasising the flowing nature of Snow’s vocal lines in a very chilled style.
This is quite possibly the first 12” single to be reviewed on London Jazz News, and I hope it won’t be the last – there is so much new creativity from the interaction of musicians, DJs and producers that this is the new playing field for those artists wishing to work around the edges and overlaps of musical form, rearranging and recombining material in new ways. Isn’t that what jazz is?