Get funky, get housey

Various Artists
Ubiquity Records

Never have Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” or the Doors’ “Riders on the Storm,” been this funky.

Guess what? A great way to appreciate old songs (both familiar and not) is to hear them interpreted by modern artists. This is what the new Ubiquity compilation Rewind allows you to do.

Rewind is a compilation of cover versions, remixes and re-edits of old school classics, famous songs and underground rare groove cuts. Like many Ubiquity compilations, the treatments dive into funk breaks, jazz, downtempo, house, Latin, dub, reggae and hybrids.

Rewind’s concept is great because modern remix and cover work of all kinds harkens back to the jazz era when artists would reinterpret their peers’ compositions and make something completely new. Modern artists in various genres take samples and create new songs, continuing this artistic version of call-and response, sometimes called “signifyin’.”

Some versions on Rewind are third generation. Rockers Hi-Fi lay down a fiery batucada samba version – complete with cuica and melodic drum breakdown – of Ella Fitzgerald singing Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” Carnival-energy drums or not, the late Ms. Fitzgerald owns any song she graces. The Gotan Project uses Chet Baker’s take on Monk’s “Round About Midnight” to lay down a lounge piece that keeps on giving until it bursts.

The electronic Beatless duo keep Aaron Neville’s “Hercules” super funky. Yesterday’s New Quintet, aka jazz creationist and sampler extraordinaire Madlib, chills out on Ramp and Ohio Players cuts. And one of the hottest cuts is Frank de Jo Jo’s energetically funkified version of Larry Young’s Fuel song “Turn off the Lights.” I could go on about the specific artists ad cuts, but I can only include the word funky so many times in one review.

Some cuts on Rewind are stronger than others, and there are times when continuity is lost on the 12-song long player, but this is still a solid compilation for fans of … all music really.

Various Artists
Off Limits 3
Sonar Kolectiv

I’m picky about house music. To me, most house I hear is just an annoying thump for people to dance to. It can be tolerable if the dance floor is hot, the house beat is actually part of a song, or if it’s super funky. Off Limits 3 is a solid house mix with soulful cuts, mostly good full-length songs and some body-moving potential (I say potential because it’s chill and low enough in the beats per minute to enjoy when lounging).

The CD is the third Off Limits compiled and mixed by Steffen “Dixon” Berkhahn, and he’s got damn fine taste and skills to match. The past two installations focused on some nu-jazz downtempo and other progressive stuff. On “3” he builds into a tasty 90 percent house set full of organic sounds, decent vocals and a funky feel. He starts off with the disjointed acoustic guitar tweakings from Riton, drops Jazzanova featuring Victor Duplaix, adds an Ursula Rucker remix, Ame, John Tejada, and Atjazz. The mixes are slow and precise, with beats matched and blended up to a minute in places. This is a good mix, so good I almost forgot it was a house mix.