- Not too long ago, I lamented that a collection of SebastiAn remixes sounded too monolithic for its own good: individually taken, the re-works were impressive, but listened to back to back, they drew too much attention to the template on which they relied. In term of symbolic capital, the album not only diminished SebastiAn's aura: It made his craft sound formulaic. At about the same time, Joakim Bouaziz, the Paris-based electro producer best known for his ever expanding versatility (producer/DJ/label-launching entrepreneur/remixeur extraordinaire), was also releasing a compilation of his most notable takes on other artists' songs, and although My Best Remixes is, so far, only available in France (on Joakim's own Tigersushi label), it reveals itself to be everything SebastiAn's album wasn't: kaleidoscopic, whimsical and a riveting listen from start to finish.
My Best Remixes opens up on the marching drum of Annie's "Never Too Late," a saccharine-fueled evanescent pop moment if there was ever one. Annie rarely knows whether her songs should be populist Top 40 hits or filler at some local indie disco night. In the hands of Joakim, though, the Norwegian songstress is turned—with a floating and ever-changing TB-303 line that becomes the spiraling backbone of the remix—into an eccentric acid-house heroine. And therein lies Joakim's intuitive remixing talent: Instead of enforcing his sound on the material, he teases out what the song might have said. At the time of the release of his remake of Tiga's "Pleasure from the Bass," Joakim's version sounded annoyingly syncopated next to the simple yet pristine original; today, however, his break-y take seems to have aged better, hinting at Tiga's perennial potential. It's one of those rare occasions when both the original producer and the remix guy end up advantaged by the remix.
The classically trained Joakim doesn't limit himself to one style in particular: Joakim twists tunes from synth-based indie bands such as Cut Copy or Late of the Pier into captivating, dance floor-friendly cuts and does Italo in the next breath—his low-key take on Max Berlin's 1987 "Elle et Moi" is the perfect album closer. And then there is that towering version of Antena's "Camino Del Sol" (sadly present only in a shortened album edit), another rejuvenated gem from the early '80s on which Joakim resists the Balearic charms of the original in favor of something almost entirely new. It is actually one of those rare musical moments when defining the track's very genre seems pointless, if not totally impossible. It's deep house (kinda), techno (right?), slow-motion electro (probably), nü-Balearica (but not really) and it echoes Joakim's own "Drumtrax" or "I Wish You Were Gone" a bit, yet it has an elusive air of absolute idiosyncrasy.
If the weirdly costumed half-leopard, half-Big Bird "person" adorning the compilation's artwork wasn't clear indication enough, Joakim is a free-spirited freak that isn't afraid to take his remixing jobs to uncharted territories. Luckily for us, the stupider he looks, the more compelling he seems to get.
01. Annie - Always Too Late (Joakim Remix)
02. The Chap - Ethnic Instrument (Joakim Remix)
03. DJ Mehdi - Pocket Piano (Joakim 'Berger' Remix)
04. Zombie Zombie - Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free (Joakim Remix)
05. Tiga - Pleasure From The Bass (Joakim Remix)
06. Late Of The Pier - The Bears Are Coming (Joakim Dub)
07. Clashing Egos - Aming Nebere (Joakim Remix)
08. Alter Ego - Why Not?! (Joakim Remix)
09. Cut Copy - Hearts On Fire (Joakim Remix)
10. Lionel Hampton - Vibromatic (Joakim Vibromatic Remix)
11. Antena - Camino Del Sol (Joakim Remix)
12. Max Berlin - Elle Et Moi (Joakim Remix)