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Wide Hive Remixed

Wednesday, Apr 21 2004
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Local Mission-based imprint Wide Hive Records has built its reputation delivering a creative mix of funky jazz, thumping turntablism, and exotically flavored excursions into downtempo. Using the label's back catalog as a launching point, Wide Hive Remixed draws on the talents of studio wizards from both coasts to boldly revamp songs by WH's signature artists -- label head Gregory Howe's loose studio collective Dissent, DJ Zeph, and turntable jazz outfit Variable Unit -- into new grooves and, in some cases, entirely new styles.

Brooklyn-based beat merchants Ticklah and GE-OLOGY focus on Nathalie Sanchez's honey-sweet voice in their respective takes on Dissent's "Rudy" and "Shine," constructing chilled-out electronic beats around the vocals to diverge dramatically from the more organic-sounding originals. Foreign Legion's DJ Design gets crunk with his handclap-driven version of "Mirrors on Sand" that should (but somehow doesn't) undermine the paranoid-schizophrenic rhymes Azeem first dropped on DJ Zeph's solo debut.

In keeping with Wide Hive's gift for mixing traditional musicianship and electronic manipulation, several contributions rely as much on added instrumentation as on knob tweaking. Cloudkickers' DJ Eli transforms Dissent's "Bleeding Together" into a percolating Afrobeat groove; local skate god turned downtempo guru Tommy Guerrero stretches out Dissent's brief ambient interlude "Eclectric Company" with a dark, cinematic vibe and some understated guitar licks; and DJ Zeph gets in on the action, introducing echo-laden organ and horns to "Dr. J Dub" in an extra-spliffed-out rendering of the Variable Unit song.

Spotting the often minuscule differences between an original tune and an alleged "remix" can sometimes require an electron microscope, but this tasty compilation finds the Wide Hive sound taking surprising new directions while still retaining its characteristically warm analog vibe.

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Dave Pehling

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