I think it is fair to say that alt-J has earned an iconic status by now. For many, they are still the defining sound for experimental rock, despite turning 11 years old this year. This was quite surprising to me because they still sound so fresh. Even after all these years An Awesome Wave is still talked about. In their third album RELAXER the band changed their sound a bit and got a mixed response from fans. Their newest edition is REDUXER – a compilation of remixes of all of the RELAXER songs.
I must admit, I had high expectations when approaching this new alt-J release. There is only one decent remix album in my mind: Bastards, which remixes tracks from Bjork’s Biophilia. Therefore, I was hoping that the trio would provide us with equally interesting experimentation with various music genres, with some excellent features and an exciting results. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that at all.
REDUXER got off to a strong start with ‘3WW (feat. Little Simz)’, where the rap actually fits the original melody and the added beat works really well. I really like the change of the feel; however, the acoustic guitar feels out of place. I would like the track a lot more if the vocals stayed the same throughout the whole song. The same goes for the next one: ‘In Cold Blood’. Pusha T did a great job and it’s probably the most discernible feature of them all. The distorted alt-J vocals are very interesting, but I don’t like the back and forth between original vocal to remix.
Additionally, after a while, the hook starts to feel a bit repetitive. Only ‘Adeline’ stands out as my favourite song from both albums; I really enjoyed the trap take on it. However, it incorporates mostly the overused trends we hear everywhere from Post Malone to “Soundcloud rappers”. It works as its own song, but not an original one. In the end, we finally get some diversity with an international take on the first two tracks with French and German vocals.
To sum up, most of the songs on REDUXER have one of two issues. Either they have a nice new version of a melody but are quite boring overall, or the experimentation feels forced. Either too little or too much going on. The album lacks balance, just like the original.