Kuniyuki: Kuniyuki Remixed
Mule Musiq

Having issued his second album All These Things, a genre-spanning and culturally-diverse collection of house- and jazz-influenced exotica, earlier this year, Hokkaido-based Kuniyuki Takahashi wastes no time in following it up with a related remix album featuring makeovers by Theo Parrish, Cobblestone Jazz, Henrik Schwarz, and others. Though the general critical line regards album remix projects as little more than superfluous indulgences, Kuniyuki Remixed holds up pretty well due to the consistently high quality of its contents.

“Touch A Mountain Of One Peyote Remix” opens the album in mildly interesting manner with an atmospheric jazz-blues treatment replete with a murmured voiceover but things really get moving with the second track, Theo Parrish's fourteen-minute take on “All These Things.” Showers of bright cymbal patterns set the mood which goes deeper once the unidentified female vocalist steps in to wrap her sultry voice around the song's silken, ever-intensifying funk-house groove. Admittedly the cut ultimately registers as a rather loose jam of excessive length yet it's more than a little easy to surrender to its seductive charms. Schwarz honours the essence of Kuniyuki's “Dear African Sky” original with an equally exotic version where African vocal chants, piano, flute, Spanish guitar, and percussion instruments dance over a fiery midtempo pulse. Kuniyuki gives his own collaborative track with Schwarz, “The Session,” a steamy Detroit techno makeover that'd sound right at home on Andy Vaz's Yore Records imprint. The tune builds feverishly, ever threatening to spin wildly out of control, especially when a rabid synthesizer pulls it in every seeming direction. Kuniyuki also contributes a new song, “Rain of Ocean,” which shows him delving deeper into a fusion-influenced style of dance music; the synthesizer melody that searchingly meanders over the Afro-house groove can't help but revive memories of Weather Report's Josef Zawinul. Cobblestone Jazz's driving take on “The Session” is not only an album highlight, it may be the best thing I've heard from the band: irresistibly funky, the tune roars determinedly and the taut groove the group stokes evidences none of the looseness to which some its own recorded music has fallen prey. French outfit Chateau Flight doesn't let being relegated to the penultimate slot dampen its enthusiasm, judging by the hypercharged electro-house attack the duo brings to “Earth Beat" and, at album's end, Kuniyuki returns for a remix of the original album's title track that impresses for its blend of impassioned female vocalizing and high-energy house groove. Kuniyuki Remixed's a long collection at seventy-nine minutes but nonetheless solid throughout, the sole exception its slightly less-than-enthralling opener.

November 2008