Music Reviews

Album Review: Alt-J – REDUXER

Alt-J are a British indie-rock trio consisting of Joe Newman, Gus Unger-Hamilton and Thom Green. Since their debut album An Awesome Wave was released in 2012, Alt-J’s success has consistently increased, winning several awards and top charts places across their albums.

“an extremely artistically unique and impressive album”

Alt-J’s newest album, REDUXER, released on 28th September is a collection of 11 reimaginations of songs from their award-winning third album RELAXER, as reworked by ‘fans, friends and peers’. Those who reimagine the tracks include influential hip hop artists and producers such as Danny Brown, Twin Shadow and Little Simz. The reworking of their original songs was first alluded to when Pusha T and Twin Shadow Joined Alt-J on The Late Show for a performance of ‘In Cold Blood’, shortly before their studio version of the collaboration was released.

The first track, ‘3WW’, featuring London’s acclaimed Little Simz is a simple yet impactful track. It completely differs from the original version, as Simz’s verses are seamlessly placed over a basic beat, almost sounding like spoken-word poetry. ‘In Cold Blood’ featuring Pusha T, a version by LA synth-pop artist Twin Shadow, is similar to ‘3WW’ in that there aren’t heavy instrumentals, however it is much more frequently reminiscent of Alt-J’s recognised style. Pusha T raps at a slow pace which sits perfectly on the ominous beat, with different beats combining to create the hip-hop spin on the song.

“a kind of bittersweet nostalgic feeling”

Track 3, ‘House of The Rising Sun’, featuring Australian amateur Tuka, is more of a downbeat and almost melancholic sounding song. Though after about a minute and a half it picks with a rise in instrumentals, which is repeated two minutes later in the song, evoking a kind of bittersweet nostalgic feeling. Tuka both raps and talks over the song at a slow, laid pack pace with Alt-J vocals periodically making an appearance.

“With its soulful and slightly funky kind of style, this song highlights how diverse the tracks are from one another”

‘Hit Me Like That Snare’ as reimagined by Jimi Charles Moody, shows a change in tone in the album as instrumentals start playing a bigger part in the songs. With its soulful and slightly funky kind of style, this song highlights how diverse the tracks are from one another, which differs from much of Alt-J’s previous work. The fifth track ‘DeadCrush’ featuring Danny Brown, an Alchemist x Trooko version of the original, stands out on the album with its steady pace and ethereal sound, as well as Brown’s distinctive voice giving the song an element of power.

Track 6, an ADP version of ‘Adeline’ featuring Hex and Paigey Cakey, similarly has a steady pace and catchy beat, and is also a distinctive track on the album due to the genre blending of trap-sounding music and more traditional Alt-J indie style.

“The idea of no boundaries resonates within the track “

Terrace Martin’s version of ‘Last Year’ features Grammy-nominated US hip hop artist Goldlink. Martin has explained ‘”this record is special to me because it truly reflects freedom and what it means to have no boundaries”. The idea of no boundaries resonates within the track as it blends together singing, rapping, and jazzy music which is almost extra-terrestrial sounding at points, ending with a smooth fade-out.

Trooko’s take on ‘Pleader’ is the eighth track, featuring Puerto Rican rapper PJ Sin Suela. The instrumentals used create an eerie feeling, which is heightened by the intense bass. Whilst the style of the backing vocals is quite dark-sounding, it is mellowed out by Sin Suela’s rapping over the top. There are some interesting electronic effects used, and the ending of the song is reminiscent of a flatline, adding to the eeriness of the track.

Track 9 is another version of ‘3WW’, featuring platinum-certified Parisian rapper Lomepal. It is a very chilled-out song, and whilst many English listeners may not be able to understand the words, they can certainly appreciate the music as it pleasantly rises and falls throughout, ending with a delicate piano fade-out.

“This powerful track is the most reminiscent of Alt-J’s previous work”

Another version of ‘In Cold Blood’ is reimagined in track 10, this time with a German twist by Berlin’s Kontra K. This powerful track is the most reminiscent of Alt-J’s previous work and most similar to the original version, especially during the intro. The final song of the album is Dublin-born rapper Rejjie Snow’s version of ‘Hit Me Like That Snare’. Whilst different to Moody’s version, it has moments where it shares the same funky vibe, created by the slower place and instrumental choices.

REDUXER is an enormously inclusive and global album, featuring artists from all around the world, as well as both amateurs and award-winning musicians. Whilst it may differ from what fans expect from Alt J, it is nonetheless an extremely artistically unique and impressive album.

Alana McKenna


Featured Image courtesy of Alt-J Official Facebook Page.

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