Little Dragon – Ritual Union (Auxil Edition)

On the heels of their killer Blondie flip, electronic scene newcomers Auxil are back with a brand new remix that I’m super stoked on because they’ve decided to take a swing at Little Dragon’s “Ritual Union”. They twist the indie-pop gem into a driving deep house joint that I’d love to hear pumping out of some club speakers late at night…even more specifically, from an open-air club on the beach where the vibes of the dance floor and the ocean breeze swirl together into a sweet, sweet ritual union. Is there one of these in LA? I can only hope so. Anyway, back to the music!

Between their two releases, Auxil have made flips that sound like outright originals which is a massive feat. These dudes have an ear for fine-tuning music that I can seriously appreciate as someone who’s been around musicians long enough to understand the depth of their craft. It’s amazing that their take on “Ritual Union” so subtly makes its way into your ears and has your head nodding before you even realize it. I love a track with massive percussion that sounds like a subwoofer warcry, but sometimes it’s better to slowly slip away as the music unfolds.

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Little Dragon vs. Clams Casino – Ritual Union (Duncan Gerow Mix)

Funny that mash-ups – a genre that brings together disparate forms to create something fresh and new, that is, at its very core, about unification – can be so divisive.

I can always appreciate the ethos behind mash-ups, if not the end result. After all, what is creation if not appropriation? Building upon the foundations of the past, enacting new contexts onto known forms, finding new wrinkles and creases in something well-worn, these are all concepts and approaches integral to the creative process. But my problem with some mash-ups is that too many of them fall back on knee-jerk unsubtlety. It’s so easy to get a rise out of someone when you take two obvious things and combine them to make another obvious thing. Where’s the art in that?

Ritual unions
Got me in trouble again.”

Something can engender a response in you in the immediate, can excite and arouse upon first meeting. But it means little if it can’t sustain those surprises and newness over the long-term.  That’s the difference between the flings and the relationships that develop into something more. The one night stand will flicker through your memory and is welcome to be revisited from time to time. But that’s not the one you’re going to get hitched to, if you know what I mean.

Duncan Gerow’s Little Dragon + Clams Casino = Ritual Union doesn’t suffer from any of these issues. Granted, he’s working with some killer source material. And he could stand to be a bit more creative with the title for his sonic transmutation. After all, he’s cribbing from the Little Dragon track Ritual Union, which is pulled from the album… Ritual Union.

But I won’t hassle this dude too much, not when the results are this good. Gerow uses Clams Casino’s The Fall as an underpinning for Yukimi Nagano’s misty vocals. The math is pretty straightforward but a little tweak to the tempo here and some decay punched in there and all of  sudden we’ve got something beautiful and abstract. It could’ve turned out all murk and miasma. Instead, it breezes on by and has a unique kind of peace about it; the haze envelops but it never quite swallows you up. Little flecks of noise ring out only to fade away. Melodies and hi-hats clang along and keep things swaying along. It’s all very zen, to the point where I wish I had one of those little sand and rock gardens to tend to while this gently lilted out of my speakers.

So. It has put me a supremely tranquil and serene state of mind. I hope it will do the same for you.

Duncan Gerow – Little Dragon + Clams Casino = Ritual Union

Music Remixes

Zion I x Little Dragon – Ritual Union (J. Period Refix)

Let me rewind us back to summer 2011. If there was a match made in heaven, this would be it. The futuristic raps of Oakland, CA’s own Zion I melts together with the jazzy-synth pop of EMPT favorite, Little Dragon. Taking the title track off Little Dragon’s 2011 release by the same title and adding a killer rap verse at the end, Zion I has found a home in Little Dragon’s production. I can’t think of anything else better than ending the work week by beginning the weekend with track of wayward love spilled over a smooth beat.

We can thank Brooklyn based producer, J. Period, for bringing together two worlds so seemingly apart, now that they’re together we can’t imagine why they’d be separated. I didn’t know much about J. Period before this track, but after consulting the internet I came to realize I’ve known him for quite some time. He’s been dropping mixtapes since 2000, one of which I used to play samples from for a while after the death of Michael Jackson. At the time I didn’t know where the tracks came from. Now I know they’re from J. Period’s 2009 tribute to Michael Jackson mixtape. His work is something to be reckoned with. What he hears in tracks and how he can associate sounds with other sounds is beyond measure in my book, and he’s done something quite good with this track. The song is very much still the Ritual Union we know and love. Listen closely and you’ll hear subtle reggae influences and a quirky synth wobble in the background. Zumbi comes in and spits his fire during the third verse, and it simply melts into the sound. The rhythm of the raps counter the low doom-doom-doom-doom-doom line of the original track in a way that enhances both sampled artist’s styles and eccentricities. It’s these unexpected expected nuances that set this track above a casual remix. It is, after all, a re-fix (not that either track needed fixing but hey).

So congratulations on getting through the week. Pour yourself something, sit back and turn this tune up. Welcome to the weekend.

Zion I x Little Dragon – Ritual Union (J. Period Refix)