Mute Forest: Reforestation EP
Lost Tribe Sound

The sole weak point we noted on Mute Forest's otherwise excellent Deforestation album also works its way into this companion remix set, which comes as a complimentary download with the vinyl purchase or is available separately for those choosing digital. But in this EP context, the relatively limited expressiveness of Kael Smith's hushed vocal delivery turns out to be a plus for the simple reason that it acts as a common thread that helps unify remix productions of varying character—even if much of the EP's instrumental.

A few selling-points declare themselves right away, the first being the inclusion of two bonus Mute Forest originals to go along with the five remixes, and secondly the mastering involvement of Kiln's Kirk Marrison. The remixers themselves are an impressive lot, with Western Skies Motel (Danish guitarist René Gonzàlez Schelbeck), Porya Hatami, Spheruleus (Lincolnshire-based Harry Towell), Kiln, and Mombi (an indie-rock trio featuring Kael Smith as a member) all taking part. The originals evidence no drop in quality from the album material, with “Glass of Sand Water” a slow-motion, piano-driven instrumental and “Everglade” an entrancing vocal reverie featuring Smith's feathery voice egged on by a lurching bass pulse.

The thirty-five-minute EP begins with a Western Skies Motel treatment of the album's closing song, “From God, To Kane, To Seth,” in this case Schelbeck not radically re-imagining the quietly smoldering original but more enhancing it with electric guitar textures and retaining the pleasing vocal contrast between Smith's vocal and the soft utterances of a choir. Elsewhere, Porya Hatami deepens the atmospheric dimensionality of the original instrumental presentation of “I Will Never Fully Remember the Way,” Spheruleus beefs up “Vine Covered Windows and Doors” with a heavy bottom end, and Kiln, in its “‘Oxide Baroque' Rebuild” of “Distracted by my Contorted Reflection,” shows itself once again to be masterful manipulators of texture and, as ever, sensitive to nuance. Still, the arguably biggest surprise—and not an unwelcome one—is the punchy, synthesizer-heavy treatment of “Deforestation” by Mombi: backing Smith's fragile voice with a chilly electro-pop arrangement might look odd on paper but makes for a disarming and splendid result.

December 2015