In the world of so-called “post-rave” dance music, Munich-based Compost Records has emerged as perhaps the best single “future jazz” label, boasting such highly-regarded artists of the scene as the Tr퀌_by Trio, A Forest Mighty Black, Minus 8 and Beanfield. They also play host to such incredibly well-selected compilations such as Glucklich and Future Sounds of Jazz, often found in the crates of some of the best DJs out there today.
Just as “jazz” refers to a wide range of musical styles and sounds that are difficult to categorize, much can be said about the current “future jazz” or “nu-jazz” movement. The sounds can range from the soulful trip-hop of Kruder & Dorfmeister to the funky house of Jazzanova to the dubbed out bossa nova of Thievery Corporation. Basically, just think of it as a combination of laid back new school beats infused with a jazzy tip.
Fauna Flash, consisting of Germans Christian Prommer and Roland Appel, first blipped on the electronic music scene radar by producing a couple of jazzy drum ‘n’ bass singles in 1994. These gained the attention of such high profile jungle DJs as the Metalheadz crew, Grooverider, Peshay and Kemistry & Storm. Soon after that, they dropped their debut full-length album, Aquarius, a collection of quality drum ‘n’ bass tracks. Their second LP, Fusion, followed last year with a more diverse mix of the organic jungle they have been known for, but also with some well-produced downtempo and house that has received nearly unanimous acclaim. Now they are getting onto the playlists of such high-profile DJs such as Gilles Peterson and Rainer Tr퀌_by, with whom they also form his Trio, producing mostly smooth house.
So it comes as no surprise that Fauna Flash’s newest album, Confusion, a collection of remixes of tracks from their Fusion album, is filled with contributions from such in-demand producers as Peter Kruder, Charlie Dark of Attica Blues, dZihan + Kamien, Pole and Kyoto Jazz Massive. While it must be said the originals may still maintain their slight edge in many cases, the reworks by such a diversity of artists are quite impressive, and are a testament to the brilliance of the original album.
dZhihan + Kamien’s “Mother Nature” remix features some gentle horn and piano touches paired with a solid beat and stand-up bass, giving it more of a laid-back groove feel. Blue Foundation’s version of the same song uses more drawn out horn sequences while restructuring it with hip-hop beats and cuts, along with a new version of the vocals, resulting in a downbeat treat.
The memorable track “Tel Aviv” is given three drastically different treatments by Stephane Attias, Peter Kruder and Charlie Dark, each of which show the flexibility and diversity of house music. Attias’ version gives it more of a traditional funk bassline fused with some horn and synth loops, and even slyly sneaks in a sample from the legendary Funky Meters. While Kruder’s track is reminiscent of the sound he produced with Fauna Flash as Voom: Voom, combining a go-go rhythm with electro bass and cosmic sounds, it is still not what is expected from one of the godfathers of downtempo music. Nevertheless, it can still bump. Charlie Dark, of the London trip-hop outfit Attica Blues, shows a different side of his musical ability as well, melding “Tel Aviv” into a darker sound, with a moodier deep house style, giving it an entirely new atmosphere. Think of dimly lit Mediterranean beaches, past midnight.
Kruder’s G-Stone Records labelmate Stereotyp cuts up the original more straight ahead hip-hop of “Question,” turns out the lights, messes with the power box, and turns them on again, resulting in a spaced out techno groove. Salvador Group’s chilled out vibes on “Free” makes you dream of starry nights with your eyes closed, until you open them and find yourself in a lucid dream wandering the streets, after hours.
Kyoto Jazz Massive’s rendition of “Ten” provides some straight up jazzy house that could have perhaps used a bit more of their usual energetic funk, while experimentalist Pole makes you wonder whether he actually used the original at all for his remix, or if he dubbed out some other track instead, though it is a smoker’s delight nonetheless. The same could be said of Dixon’s heavy bass dub of “Alone Again,” depending on what you’re smoking.
Even with such a wide variety of sounds experienced on this record, it all somehow comes together, in a dreamy soundtrack to the day after your party nights, or some after hours lounge tucked into the shadowy streets, making anticipation for the next Fauna Flash remix album just as high as their original work.