Stripped Digital reaches it’s 150th release, and to mark the milestone they welcome back Seb Dhajje to the Stripped Family of labels, which was home to many of his earlier releases. Tel Aviv’s rising star Lonya and London-based Irishman John O’Connor supply the remixes.
Seb Dhajje’s original version of ‘Constanza’ kicks off with insistent stabs, and these drive the track forward throughout. A brief breakdown sees the addition of the three other main elements of the track: mournful, sweeping strings, a hypnotic, pulsing bassline, and hovering synths. And that’s it really; the track forges forward, allowing the string part to swoop in when it sees fit, while a couple of longer breakdowns give temporary relief from the stabs and allow the track some breathing space. It’s really simple, but very effective and with enough of Seb Dhajje’s musical touch to satisfy any fans of his work.
Lonya returns to Stripped following his excellent bonus remix on the ‘We Have to Go Back’ compilation last year. In the meantime, he’s further cemented his reputation, with some high-profile and powerful remixes on the likes of Sudbeat and Lowbit. His interpretation of ‘Constanza’ pushes the track in a slightly more deep house direction, with cool snare rolls, and a laid-back, groovier bassline. Sparkingly, rippling guitar-like sounds build atmosphere, and the remix really hits its stride halfway through, when these guitar sounds are offset against gentle melodies. After a brief breakdown, the bassline solidifies into something more driving, and Lonya floats trippy, abstract melodies over the top, giving the remix its high-point.
Regular readers will know that I’ve been greatly enjoying John O’Connor’s distinctive brand of techno/progressive crossover, including his recent remix of Ewan Rill for Stripped Digital. The same trick of using tuned percussion to enrich the bottom end of the track is on display here, to really amazing effect, and the track almost immediately hits a fantastic groove while urgent bleeps ring out overhead. The long breakdown features various strands which don’t quite gel together, but if anything that’s what makes the remix really work. It’s like part of the track wants to have a time-out, letting the gorgeous string sounds soothe the listener for a few moments, while the other half just wants to get going again, with the result that the track rises suddenly and unexpectedly out of the strings, already menacing and ready to do more damage, and this sets up an explosive drop. The string themes get their own back, though, creeping back in and giving the remix its memorable finale.
It’s great to see Seb Dhajje delivering some new music, since he’s been rather quiet of late, but once again it’s John O’Connor’s remix that really does the business for me here. He’s only released a handful of tracks, and this is only his second remix, but I’m already predicting big things from him. Congratulations to Stripped Digital for hitting another milestone, and for celebrating it in such style. 8.5/10