Detroit Experiment: Think Twice
Juno Records

Think Twice is the seventh remix collection of classic dance tracks in Juno Records' series, with each installment commissioned by the label to celebrate its ten-year reign as the world's largest online dance music store. “Think Twice,” composed by Donald Byrd and Larry Mizell and re-interpreted by The Detroit Experiment, is a particularly fascinating case because it pairs Carl Craig (synthesizer, bass, guitar, drum programming) with heavyweight session players Ron Otis (drums), Jeremy Ellis (piano), Marcus Belgrave (trumpet), and Allan Barnes (alto saxophone). The quintet's 2002 original appears at album's end which means re-imaginings by Henrik Schwarz, Mark E, and Confetti Bomb roll out before we get a chance to hear how they sound next to the original.

In Schwarz's snappily funky opening treatment, deep strings and Ellis's ostinato piano patterns provide a slightly Latin-ized base for Belgrave's trumpet blaze and Barnes' saxophone wail. Schwarz complements that mix with a “live edit” which pushes the electronic dimension slightly more than the first, before giving way to a “Pressure dub” version by Mark E that takes the tune on an eleven-minute, late-night cruise through a deep house neighborhood. Aflame with gleaming synthesizer treatments, the tune swells slowly into an insistently funky slow-burner that turns even funkier when a greasy guitar lick briefly surfaces eight minutes in to take the track home. In its twelve-minute treatment, Confetti Bomb initially strips the track down to a rangy bass line, skeletal beat, and whip-crack claps before a percolating melody, horn accents, and sinuous synth lines enter the picture. As often happens with these kinds of things, the original not only isn't supplanted by the remix versions but towers over them. In this case, “Think Twice” seems like a near-perfect melding of tech-house and jazz with the musicians' electric piano, trumpet, and sax standing out atop the sweetly pumping groove and Craig's squealing synths. If there's anything of which to be critical, it's that Think Twice might have been improved if five different remixers had contributed rather than Schwarz and Mark E doing double duty. But that's a relatively minor quibble for a release whose grooves dig deliciously deep.

April 2009