Review Summary: The Radiohead remixer releases a great trip-hop album of original material.
Among indie bands, one of the more annoying trends is the always mediocre remix album. Including Grizzly Bear and Minus the Bear (seeing another trend?), countless bands like to hear other bands and DJ’s interpretations of their music, although to fans and critics they often sound like garbage. Mojib, however, recently produced one of the most notable remixes of current music by being the first to remix a song from Radiohead’s In Rainbows
- “Videotape.” In fact, he put it out the day of the release. And unlike certain reviewers posting reviews the day of release, it was actually good. His remix takes advantage of the song’s minimalism, leaving him plenty of space to make his own interpretation. He keeps the repetitive descending piano line and Thom’s haunting vocals, but adds countermelody, a more energetic drum beat and a backing choir for more effect. In many ways, Mojib changed the character of the song, therefore transforming it into something new. He avoids sounding cliché and canned. On October 10th, over 25,000 people downloaded the remix.
With his rise in popularity, all eyes turn to Mojib with the release of his second album, Whimsical Lifestyle
. As if he crafted a master plan, his album will appeal perfectly to all the people who heard his quickly crafted remix through the use of poppy melodies and recognizable samples. Along the way, he includes Jaga Jazzist and Bright Eyes, among others, without reservation or caution. His confidence in using songs Radiohead fans will instantly recognize establishes a strong sense of self-awareness. Also, it fittingly establishes the whimsical, for lack of a more original word, atmosphere of the album. The song “Lifesaver” would work perfectly as a simple, laid-back song based on the guitar samples; with the inclusion of the Jaga Jazzist choir vocal sample, however, he adds depth to the song as if on a whim. Throughout each song, Mojib changes the focus of individual sections while still connecting everything with common motifs, whether a drum groove or a chord progression or a bassline.
While most songs on the album sound cheery and energetic, Mojib takes sometime to portray a more reflective mood, most notably on “Break of Dawn.” The leaping string sample mixed with the repetitive piano make a musical climax that, while still maintaining the mood of the album, sounds more inspired than peppy. This segues into “The Garden Part Three”, a continuation of songs from his first album Class of ’00
, which uses a more minimalistic approach. With haunting female vocals lightly hovering over low, dark strings and piano, the lack of defined rhythm causes a much needed lull in intensity. Apart from this section in the middle album, Whimsical Lifestyle
employs a repetitive albeit effective formula. His samples often serve one of four purposes: to establish a chord progression (usually through piano or guitar), to convey a melody, to create dramatic effect (usually with vocal samples), or to distract the listener from the repetitive nature of sample-based music. The last purpose sets apart the music apart from other instrumental hip-hop and electronica in that the music always moves forward.
Despite this formulaic approach, the samples are interesting and different enough to not get terribly repetitive. The dramatic vocal sample in “Home Is Where the Heart Is” shouts rather than sings, first through a crowd chanting, fitting perfectly with the accents of the drum beat, and then eventually converges into one man shouting about fighting for humankind, standing up against lies and uncovering the truth. In the use of these samples, Mojib obviously pays homage to DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing
, a clear influence on the album. Whimsical Lifestyle
, while not as memorable as Endtroducing, feels very similar in atmosphere, although much happier and carefree. It feels extremely conceptual and well-planned. From such a powerful music scene as Gothenburg, Sweden, it is no surprise that Mojib keeps his music so relevant to current musical trends. Luckily, he never falls into any traps of cliché style, and remains original, if not riding along rather than pushing ahead. His calculation for success is perfect, and anyone who enjoyed his “Videotape” remix should certainly listen to Whimsical Lifestyle
for a consistent trip hop release.