Ikebana: When You Arrive There Remixes

A half-year after Ikebana's When You Arrive There materialized comes a remix version of the album featuring contributions by Matthewdavid, El Fog, Sakaimasayuki & Sigh Society, James McNew, Buffalo Daughter, Danny Norbury, and aus. A comparison study between the songs in their original and remix forms reveals dramatic differences in tone and style; the contributors have, in other words, less remixed than reimagined Ikebana's songs.

In their originating form, the songs by Japanese duo Maki and En traffic in an easily accessible and beguiling brand of skeletal dreampop dominated by breathy female vocals and blurry electric guitars; the remixes, though stylistically wide-ranging, are often denser, heavier, and more experimental. In that regard, El Fog roughens up “Wrong” with a tough beat pattern and raw electric guitar playing, while Matthewdavid reimagines “Ends” as a trippy plunge into swirling psychedelia where vocals drift within a dense mass of shifting, multi-coloured textures.

In one of the release's most memorable tracks, Sakaimasayuki & Sigh Society's loping treatment of “Alone” exudes the gentle pop allure of the original in retaining Ikebana's breathy vocalizing but now gives as much attention to sing-song flute and thumb piano motifs. Also potent is Buffalo Daughter's joyful reading of “Kiss,” which, boosted by funky electric guitars and rhythms, infectiously rumbles in a way that positions it halfway between melodic pop and dance material. Danny Norbury enhances the dreamlike drift of “Ikebana” by adding mournful cello playing to the original's hushed vocals and plucked guitars.

In keeping with the ethereal character of Ikebana's “Rose,” James McNew contributes a soothing, ambient-pastoral makeover that oozes as much hazy entrancement as the original. But in an interesting twist, McNew re-emerges at the recording's end with a plodding “anxiety” mix of the same song that, true to its word, is smothered in guitar-generated grime and soot. In a very real sense, the Ikebana original and remix collection constitute a natural pairing, given that the original weighs in at only thirty-one minutes and the related set thirty-nine. Put them together and the result is a long full-length collection that affords fascinating points of comparison for the listener interested in undertaking such a study.

January 2014