The Detroit native’s classy soul record packaged with fine remixes.
Lloyd Bradley 2010
This double-CD set is a reissue of Paul Randolph’s 2008 release Lonely Eden, coupled with Echoes, which collects remixes of some of the original album’s tracks by the likes Mike Banks, Jazzanova, Charles Webster and Underground Resistance. Given the original was one of the most accomplished and subtly infectious neo-soul albums of the last 10 years or so – all the classy soul of his native Detroit delivered with jazz/funk smooth and P-Funk panache, that was roundly endorsed by Stevie Wonder – improvement by remix was never going to be easy. And packaging it with the original invites instant comparison.
What makes Echoes work, however, is that it clearly isn’t intimidated by what went before. It pretty much deconstructs the original album to build it back up as a electronic/techno creation in its own right – on many tracks the only common ground are what vocals made it through to the final mix. Yet for all that separates the sets, because each of the remixers and secondary producers are from the Detroit techno and house scenes, they are inherently in tune with the soul of the city that drives Randolph’s grooves. Two radically different styles finding common ground on a vibe.
Within the new style, things are kept as interesting with all manner of different moods. Charles Webster’s Claim and Mike Banks’ Earth 2 God create true techno soul by offsetting any sharp electronic edges with sweeping washes of melody; Archetyp’s take on the former and Simbad’s Lonely Eden are modern in sound, but have all the vintage jazz/funk flourishes; and Underground Resistance’s GPS, Eda Mae by Todd Sines and Jazzanova’s Believer are the sort of low-down funk Detroit is also famous for. It’s a mark of how the remixers clearly respected the original work, to follow through on Randolph’s ideas without completely bending them to their own wills. Much of this is a result of the arrangements being structured to get the most out of classy, moving vocals meaning it will always be a soul record – even the more traditional techno grooves like Aybee’s Earth 2 God, which are in the minority, maintain a warm organic undertone thanks to the singing.
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