Recording information: Atlantis Studios, Stockholm, Sweden; Harder Sound Studios, London, England.
The Cherry Thing, an album which paired vocalist Neneh Cherry with provocative Scandinavian jazz trio the Thing, was one of the more welcome surprises of 2012. A collection of covers and originals, it offered the very best of both worlds, with the vocalist's souled-out croon and hip-hop sass meeting the sometimes-noisy, almost rock-like attack of the Thing. The Cherry Thing Remixes features a group of heavy-hitting friends including Four Tet, Jim O'Rourke, Lindstrom & Prins Thomas, Merzbow, Lasse Marhaug, and others revisioning the album's tracks. Four Tet's lengthy remix of "Dream Baby Dream" uses vibraphone samples and a double-time house rhythm, and gradually weaves in brass instruments playing a shimmering little vamp as Cherry's voice is multi-tracked in cadences that almost, but not quite, sync. Ingebrigt H†ker Flaten's bassline remains, but Paal Nilssen-Love's drum kit doesn't begin accenting the sampled beats until about halfway through. Eventually, Mats Gustafsson's saxophone goes head to head in an orgiastic free jazz freakout that remains rhythmically intact. O'Rourke's version of "Accordion" actually references Madvillain's original in places, beginning slowly and sparely, with only a loop of H†ker Flaten's bass and Gustafsson's tenor wafting in from the rear. Eventually, as Cherry's vocal enters the forefront, Nilssen-Love's drums, layers of home-made percussion, and noise are added to offer a clattering, hair-raising finish that sounds like it was recorded in a tunnel. Merzbow's "Sudden Moment" sets the band against itself, playing its own sense of skronk and counterpoint. As Cherry sings from the margins, drums, distortion, and industrial sounds take the track into the stratosphere. More conventional is the remix of Cherry's "Cashback" by Lindstrom and Thomas, with an army of kalimbas, hand percussion, and drum loops, marimbas, vibes, shakers, and other African and Latin percussion, before guitars and keyboards usher in a funky urgency and create a massive garage/dancefloor orgy. Ultimately, Cherry Thing Remixes takes the source album's tunes and extrapolates on them as themes, not only creatively but appreciatively. ~ Thom Jurek