2015 saw Kid Smpl up his production apparatus to a new level, entering the year with the enigmatic Precinct EP and exiting with the tectonic Response/Ascend EP, both efforts representing a new stage in the Seattle-based artist’s career. With an aesthetic that tends to skip throughout history and hits a wide range of emotional notes, it wasn’t totally clear that the Seattle-based producer’s output was fit for remix, but over the past few months, we’ve gathered artists from in and around the Symbols realm to take on two tracks from each EP and the results have blown us away, epitomizing the recontextual power of the remix.
From outside of the Symbols camp, Lausanne, Switzerland-based SHALT has taken on “Barrier” while New York’s Eaves has put his spin on “Focus Ribbon”, both offering up suitably noisy, idiosyncratic takes on the original. With a sound that’s often brutal, but maintains an innate sense of beauty, SHALT is an idyllic match for the jungle-leaning “Barrier” and the Astral Plane representative doesn’t disappoint, transforming the original into a loping peak time number, lead by stomp box percussion and a lead synth aching with cinematic functionality. Representing Hush Hush and Purple Tape Pedigree, Eaves has taken the hopeful aura of “Focus Ribbon” into darkly abstracted territory, an exercise in restraint and the power of empty space that is as physically cavernous of a track as you’ll come across all year.
Meanwhile, Symbols’ own Utah? and y y y have reworked “Blade” and “Ender” respectively, each artist threading their own unique aesthetics through Smpl’s outsized productions in a fashion that should be familiar to fans of the label. Taking on the interstitial “Blade” from Response/Ascend, Utah?’s work is as delicate as it is propulsive, utilizing a kinetic bassline and a serious array of detuned square waves to manipulate the original into a subtle, yet forceful late night roller. y y y’s rendering of “Ender” from Precinct is equally intricate, alluding to the R&B-intoned tradition without falling into cliche.