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CD Review: Kraak & Smaak's "The Remix Sessions"
Dutch remix demi-gods, Kraak & Smaak, are not a duo, but a trio composed of Mark Kneppers, Oscar De Jong and Wim Plug and 'The Remix Sessions' is a 2 disc collection of 16 remixes of various artists and 3 original tunes. This double album is being distributed by LA's own Quango label, who specialize in electronica, dub, and dance music.
I'd heard some of Kraak & Smaak's remixes before getting this sent to me and this is definitely a well-represented grouping of their remixes. Although I've seen Kraak & Smaak referred to as producers of downbeat and funk, what they really produce is straight house music with the occassional chillout track, and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, if you aren't a fan of house music, I sincerely doubt that this release will convert you.
As a fan of house I was looking forward to getting into this listen, but I wasn't too happy with how CD1 (Smaak) started - Skeewiff's "Man of Constant Sorrow" was a remarkable and innovative track when it was first released a couple years ago and I feel that the tablas rhythm-tweaked Kraak & Smaak remix doesn't really do anything for it. I'm not sure why they decided to start out this offering with 4 mellow tunes but things start to pick up around track 5, the very disco "Can't Get Enough" by Mimezine followed by Max Sedgely's characteristically hyper-bongoed "Devil Inside".
The best song on CD1 is the remix of Dorfmeister vs MDLA's "Boogie No More" which was already an incredibly strong song - Kraak & Smaak did some excellent looping and added a humorous spoken vocal track as well as some blown-out big house refrains on the choruses (listen below). Essentially the 2nd half of CD1 is the uptempo, lively and more engaging half.
Dorfmeister vs MDLA's "Boogie No More" (Kraak & Smaak remix)
Kraak & Smaak CD Review continues after the jump.....
CD2 (Kraak) starts off with one of the two Jamiroquai songs in the compilation. Soem folks might not like this, but I never really thought that Jamiroquai was anything more than a glorified house singer intent on ripping off Stevie Wonder - Kraak & Smaak effectively reduce him to this element and it works (check it out below). CD2 also contains 3 Kraak & Smaak original tunes, starting off with the very good "Real Pain" which contains a hilarious sample of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "Constipation Blues". The other two Kraak & Smaak songs, "Everything is Plastic" and "No Sun in the Sky", are also very good examples of beat-driven house. Other mentionable items on CD2 are Fort Knox 5's "Learning it the hard way" and Lack of Afro's "Wait a minute" (nice horn blasts).
The bottom line is, I think you need to like house in order to get the most out of this release - and if you are in this category I think there's a lot of material here that would be hard to pass up.
Jamiroquai's "Electric Mistress" (Kraak & Smaak remix)