EDM Album Review: AraabMUZIK’s “Return” with The Remixes, Vol. 1

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EDM Album Review: AraabMUZIK’s “Return” with The Remixes, Vol. 1

While AraabMUZIK has made a name for himself as a high-level hip-hop producer, increasingly, he’s shifted to a hybrid incorporating a swath of influences from the EDM scene. This movement continues on The Remixes, Vol. 1, a mostly-remix compilation coming out next week.

The MPC master showcases an expanded palette via a variety of featured collaborators including Travis Barker, Skrillex, and Kid Cudi among others. The reworks range from EDM standards like Wolfgang Garner’s “Still My Baby” to original productions that have been retuned for the release.

When Araab (aka Abraham Orellana) released Electronic Dream in 2011, it was received as a groundbreaking electronic record that bridged a divide between pop stages in mainstream dance and underground clubs in the hip-hop community. The Remixes isn’t quite as much of a statement, but it does elaborate on his MPC-driven brand of trance in the right direction.

Whether it’s a result of bad press from For Professional Use Only or being in the wrong place at the wrong time in a neighborhood shooting, The Remixes feels like Orellana’s most complete and overall strongest offering to date.

The opening rework of Mt. Eden’s “Sierra Leone”, begins with an anthemic sampling, almost as if Araab is announcing his return from a hiatus. He continues his mainstream appeal taking out much of the tracks original wobble, replacing it with drum & bass that’s suited for any DJ set.

His take on Steve Aoki’s “Cudi the Kid” is smooth and silky with a drum line that’s closer to R&B than hip-hop. It’s a nod to Araab’s ability to maintain relevancy through his trademark style.

Perhaps the most interesting testament to Araab’s flavor is his collaborative remix of Benny Benassi’s “Cinema ft. Gary Go” alongside Skrillex. The track almost plays as a B2B DJ set in a showcase of the dubstep that made the latter DJ so famous in contrast to the former’s MPC command.

While there are a couple of original tracks on The Remixes, they don’t quite stand out and feel more like extensions of Electronic Dream’s thunderous drums and echoes. This album establishes an excellent precedent for future live shows. Many of these tracks would translate well in front of crowds hungry for forward-thinking trance that draws inspiration from popular music. Araab has a history of crossing boundaries and The Remixes is set to reinforce that point on stage.

The album is currently streaming over at Pitchfork.

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