Atiq & EnK :: Embracing The Unknown (Mindtrick)

Embracing The Unknown features enough inventive and complementary material to make it a must for those who really got into Fear Of The Unknown.

Embracing The Unknown is an extensive collection of remixes of Atiq & EnK’s 2013 debut, Fear of the Unknown, a joint release by Tympanik Audio and Mindtrick Records. Curating a remix album as a companion piece to an original often sounds like a great idea, but can be tricky to get right. Select the right third parties to remix the source material and you can end up with a remix album that embraces the original concept while still offering a unique, consistent sounding alternate experience. Get it wrong and it can sound like a jumbled mess, the varying styles of your contributing artists creating an experience that lacks overall appeal that could have the listener cherry picking as few as one or two few favorites here and there and discarding the remainder.

In a clear attempt to establish itself as a true sibling to the original album, Embracing The Unknown kicks off with a new composition in the form of the sample-heavy “Intro (The Travel).” But this jumble of thuds, bass stomps and swampy drones is undermined by a sample surplus that lacks subtlety, one that arguably drifts into the cringe-worthy.

Luckily, the bar is then set high by the first batch of remixes. “Moonlit Tea Party” is given a tribal-makeover in the “Tangent Remix,” a game of two halves that at first features grimy thud and thunk and then focuses heavily on the contrast between vocal crooning and tumbling beats. Zinovia’s “Vocalized Remix” of “Stay With The Familiar” is every bit as brilliant as expected, enhancing the mystical, Mediterranean atmosphere with evocative new vocal layers, raw materials percussion and expertly blended new piano melodies. Julien Mier’s remix of “Shards Of Brilliance” is similarly inspired, adding fields recordings of bird song and crowd noise to an out-and-out Kettel-style middle section surrounded by thicker swathes of crunchy beat-work and brightly colored neons.

“Moonlit Tea Party” is then expertly re-harmonized by the “Semiomime Remix,” which opens unexpectedly with acoustic guitar riffs before being pummeled into Amiga-esque chaos with shards of FX and fantastic sub-bass. Other highlights include Roel Funcken’s characteristically choppy, but all too brief remix of “Slow Clouds,” the inspired “deeB Remix,” of “Stay With The Familiar” that partners jazz-cymbals with smokey and seductive trip-hop, and Illuminated’s floor-friendly, clattering remix of “My Obligation” that successfully delivers a compelling alternate version whilst staying true to the original.

Embracing The Unknown becomes a bit of a bumpy ride after this. The “Cyance Mix” of “Moonlit Tea Party”—the album’s most remixed track—does little other than add a clattering beat to the track and might have been better placed as the download-only mix, swapped out with SubOctane’s more distinctive, brooding, Burial-style take. The “Sinister Souls Remix” of “Like An Angels Feather” similarly misses the mark, the piano rendered cheap and tacky and the choral vocals sped up to sound ridiculous before being smothered in hi-octane jungle that’s wholly at odds with the source material.

You’re on a hiding to nothing trying to remix a track like “Sim One” that’s already perfect, and the “EVS Pretty Annoying Remix” is exactly that, an incessant, skull-thumping irritant that takes the original’s Orson Welles sample, cuts it up, repeats it and “scratches” it over some of the most insufferable percussion you’re likely to hear this year. Odd. The “Delete Remix”—another of the four downloadable tracks not included on the actual CD—is the only one that does something really interesting with the track, woodblock percussion clonking over an eerie soup of smoky pads and muffled, twisted murmuring.

In Embracing The Unknown‘s latter stages, the Illuminated play the spoons in a rattling, pacy remix of “My Obligation” and the Hajee remix of “Like An Angel’s Feather” tips the track into multiple bass-drops and other dubstep tropes, but then the inspiration starts to dry up. But it seems slightly churlish to complain about a few mixes that miss the mark and are, let’s face it, an exceptionally subjective thing on a remix album in any case, particularly one that generously features twenty tracks all in.

Embracing The Unknown may not be up to par with Atiq & EnK’s extremely solid debut, but it features enough inventive and complementary material to make it a must for those who really got into Fear Of The Unknown.

Embracing The Unknown is available on Mindtrick.

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