Image by by Madison Dinelle
In 2019, Marie Davidson announced she was retiring from live club music. The Montreal based DJ/producer, and by her own right, slam poet, is largely known for her innovative live hardware sets. The announcement was eerily felicitous, as a few months later clubs would see themselves shut down in the face of a global pandemic. Since this announcement, Davidson has largely focussed on her biggest calling card; the music. Last year, she released the acclaimed album Renegade Breakdown via Ninja Tune, a collaboration with duo L’Œil Nu which was lauded as a bold sonic reinvention. Since then, Davidson and L’Œil Nu have been hard at work promoting the album, constantly expanding the experience of the music through diverse creative endeavours. The most recent of these is a series of remixes, led by efforts from Jlin and Morgan Geist. Now, the trio usher in a second instalment of these Renegade Breakdown re-imaginings, fronted by a remix of the album’s title track by Jessy Lanza.
Lanza is a natural fit for Davidson’s work, with the Canadian songwriter and producer feeling largely like a different facet of the same gem. For Renegade Breakdown, Lanza swaps the synth-rock espionage of the original for sparse, beat driven trip-hop. She gravitates towards the horror elements of the original, and pulls from Renegade Breakdown a strange uncanniness that lends itself to the atmosphere of witch house. This is driven by a textured percussive pattern that seems to be composed of breathy samples laid in quick succession, which lends a rolling, dark undertone of urgency to the remix. Interestingly, Lanza’s take cuts Davidson’s spoken word anti-establishment manifesto in its entirety, choosing instead to focus in on the track’s lilting, staccato chorus. Pitched up a few octaves, the chorus distorts into an eerie nursery rhyme against Lanza’s icy hi-hat stabs and breakbeats.
Running at half the length of the original, Lanza’s take on Renegade Breakdown could almost be a new song. The success of the track lies in Lanza’s thematic concerns, which in turn gives credence to her artistic choices. She demonstrates an understanding of Renegade Breakdown beyond its surface by extrapolating upon an otherwise subtextual thread from the original, and in doing so adds more layers of meaning to our experience of the music rather than eschewing it in favour of a complete revamp. Taken alongside the original Lanza’s version is, much like the duality between her and Davidson, a different part of the same whole and a definitive example of what qualifies as a great remix.
You can download Renegade Breakdown (Jessy Lanza remix) here, and listen below. Forthcoming remixes from the album include offerings from Tim Hecker and Young Marco. Renegade Breakdown is available to stream and download here, read our review here.
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