While looking at my review copy of Nina Simone: Remixed and Reimagined, I find myself wondering how I’m ever going to manage to convey my feelings about this album in any coherent fashion.
What I’m wary of is my reaction to the album might be misconstrued as me thinking the album isn’t worth someone else’s time or money. Even though I personally don't know that I would purchase this CD on my own, that doesn’t mean I don’t think it's a really lovely release that is well-done and probably a righteous knock-out for those it is intended for.
For starters, as the title indicates, this album is not just a straight Nina Simone release. Wanting to shake things up a bit, or perhaps just genuinely searching for a way to make Nina’s music resonate in new ways with listeners, the album is a collection of Nina Simone songs that are chop-suey’d into new audio shapes and sizes. Perhaps it was because I was expecting more of a jazzy feel to the album, but some of the tracks that had a more dance or trance vibe to them threw me off.
Please note, I’m well aware that this may be a musical prejudice on my end. Taken individually, each song is very well put together. Some of them, such as “Funkier than a Mosquito’s Tweeter” are simply gorgeous. The way that the song was flipped about seemed to heavily feature tweaking Nina’s voice itself, which made all the difference to me. It’s Nina’s voice that I came to the party to hear, after all.
Another track that stands out is “Go To Hell,” which comes across as some deviant tribal-funk. I’m not even sure what the heck I mean by that statement, but I’ll be darned if I can’t think of a more fitting term. It’s slinky, funky, and imminently a great listen.
Other tracks, though, like “Here Comes The Sun,” leave me cold. In a song that was already laid back and lovely, the idea that the “Reimagined” form would be to make it even more laid back and lovely — interminably so — just left a sour taste in my ears.
And a song like “Oooh Child,” which should have been amazing when you think about the source material, seems like a half-hearted effort that relies only on the looped beat and the song’s hook to do all the work for the remixer.
That is what you call someone who does a remix, right?
Having said all of that, by the way, I am readily willing to admit that my musical tastes, especially in the area of trance/dance/techno/remix/jazz, are not sophisticated enough for my own good. Maybe this album is one of the better of the genre, or maybe this genre is just not my cup of tea. I’ve given it a good solid dozen turns on my stereo up 'til now, however, and I haven’t learned to love this album.
At best I can say that it is something that I would put playing in the background as I did work around the house. Perhaps to serious fans of Nina Simone, or to devotees of trance music that are sick of hearing one more cookie-cutter attempt at soul by Moby, this album may be just what you are looking for.
Hopefully I’ve not confused you more than this album confused me.