It would be a disservice to call Yoruba Soul’s release of Mike Steva’s debut project, “Who am I,” simply a remix album. The music is far too sophisticated and intentionally reinterpreted to be reduced to the notion of a remix—these songs have been re-imagined by super talents. Seasoned listeners are forced to confront a collection of sonic essays that pull from the electronic music vaults and puts the original rhythm through a highly specialized reconstruction process. The album’s overall feel offers true heads the opportunity to astral travel and respond through meditative body movement. Many of the tracks are dance floor bangers, re-envisioned with appropriate touches of minimalist techno, African-centered drums and classic house vocals. This is intelligent music contributing to the development and the musical prowess of anybody with the vocabulary to understand the fusion and the cinematic score that inspires the visualization of each composition. The school of producers whom Mike Steva selected not only carry his message into the next realm of sound, but offers an additional tapestry.
‘Resolution’ featuring vocals by Osunlade has three guest producers. SD JR uses silence to speak for the music with frequent pauses and a mash up and strategic displacement of the original vocals. A heavy bass line and the layering of sounds builds necessary anticipation. SD JR gives us the best of a 90s-sound making “Resolution,” a classic consistent with early roots of soulful house music. “It’s time for a resolution,” is repeated throughout the track, which is effective in its call to action to think, dance, blend, create and move towards rhythmic stability and maybe even world peace in the process. Alex Barack offers a new wave inflected sound with ‘Resolution,’ which is pleasantly unrecognizable from, but hints at, Steva’s original track. Musically this version is the place where Duran Duran meets Frankie Knuckles or Frankie Goes to Hollywood meets the Paradise Garage for that matter. ‘Resolution’ is characterized by emotional piano and smart synths throughout. Lastly, Simbad brings a somewhat drum n bass texture to the track, playing with algorithms and situating the sound in a UK context.
The song ‘Freedom’ re-produced by Rob Paine is complete with sci-fi synths. This is the quietest groove on the compilation, but still the dancer is invited to improvise using the drums as a compass. The tension between the future and the ancient come together to offer a map that leads you away from the mundane and the musically predictable. DJ Jeff’s iteration of ‘Freedom’ brings a bigger bump to the thump and gives you something likened to aural cosmic storytelling. The next track, ‘Oasis’ (Hallex M, Arno E Clima Democratic Dub/Arno E. Mathieu Democratic Vocal) is equally engaging. Hallex’s ‘Oasis’ comes to life with sounds of nature as a score. This is what an oasis sounds like, a world we get to inhabit through an array of samples of creatures and nature, quite possibly from another planet or a a ‘secret life of plants.’ Arno E Clima ‘Oasis’ is a haunting and an appropriately dark otherworldly soundscape, this version is a journey with a heavy Afro-techy feel. The song ‘Kecak’ (Dhundee Wet, Hallex M, Anthony Nicholson,) leaves no room for questions. Dhundee’s takes on a classic hip-house sound, great samples of the voices coming through to push the crowd right over the edge of a hype mix. ‘Kacek’ is Hallex’s second production on the album and here he offers a darker, techier rendition. The ballroom dance scene will find their lives in this! The Afrodiscospace music produced by the Anthony Nicholson was created with house loyalists in mind. He creates a wall of sound filled with the history of house music. Remixed to perfection, it pulls on the heartstrings of those who have followed house music since its inception.
Mr. Raoul Ks remix and afrothings remix of Who am I? Is another stand out. Absolutely rooted in Afrohouse, it speaks to a more concentrated gathering of followers of the drum, hints of Ifa and ritualistic rhythms describes the heart of this track. Vocals by Bianca Maya Foulton who paints words onto the groove about the perils of invisibility and the pondering of a love identity. Manoo’s Journey to the West remix is an unexpected easy listening hip-hop version that uses the vocals as a percussive instrument. A Head bop will incur, it promises some good funk and encourages a freestyle in your mind. Louie Vega Dance Ritual mix of ‘Weekend Love’ is noteworthy. Vega puts a classic Masters at Work swing on it giving us a touch of familiar framed with a new voice.
Rocco delivers a soulful tech-trance with ‘Pelagonia’ with distant middle eastern horns holding up the bass. Rocco’s deep Afrohouse vibes are exchanged for a deeper abstract Berlin rave like tune. Finally, Craig Smith’s remix of ‘Moment in Time’ is a mature mid-tempo house cut that takes it time and in doing so offers a relaxed come down from an extended ride. Mike Steva’s music is a fresh breath of air to the house music scene. The line up of legendary and emerging producers selected to take part in this project did so understanding the weight of Mike’s presence in the scene and Yoruba’s history of quality artists to reinforce the label’s sound. Pick this one up.
released March 23, 2017
01 Who Am I? (Godson’s Cosmic Remix) 8:04
02 Weekend Love (Louie Vega Dance Ritual Mix) 8:25
03 Freedom (Djeff Remix) 8:04
04 Kecak (Anthony Nicholson’s Afrodiscospacemix) 9:55
05 Pelagonia (Rocco Remix) 7:16
06 Moment In Time (Craig Smith Remix) 6:15
07 Who Am I (Raoul K’s Afrothings Remix Shortplay) 9:59
08 Resolution (Simbad Soulution ReMix) 6:14
09 Oasis (Arno E Mathieu Democratic Vox Mix) 9:56
10 Who Am I? (Manoo’s Journey To The West) 8:45
01 Resolution (SDJR Remix) 6:40
02 Freedom (Rob Paine Remix) 7:25
03 Oasis (Hallex M Remix) 6:53
04 Kecak (Dhundee Wet Remix) 5:21
05 Resolution (Alex Barck Remix) 7:25
06 Oasis (Atjazz Remix) 6:30
07 Kecak (Hallex M Remix) 7:30
08 Oasis (Arno E Clima Democratic Dub) 9:58
09 Who Am I? (Mr Raoul K’s Remix) 9:57