Published Nov 15, 2018Internationally lauded Toronto soul artist (and Exclaim! cover star) Rhye is about voice. A voice usually used to explore the expanse of human romantic emotions, and in this case, handed over to a host of producers to work into their own visions. The taste and restraint that is a hallmark of the two Rhye records is evidenced here — all of these songs are good. In the hands of remixers, the delicate finery of Rhye's art is run through more machines, before being dragged willingly onto the dance floor.
The activity of one's own mind and the inevitability of change as they relate to love are repeated and resonant themes in the oeuvre of Rhye. These ideas course through the opening track, the RY X remix of "Waste," which sets a tone for this splendid collection of tracks.
Part of Rhye's craft is the knack for conveying depth of feeling while seemingly effortlessly breathing out eternal one-liners and illuminating double entendre. This artist masterfully masks complex emotional revelations in the simplicity of casual R&B and neo-soul weepers. In the case of Blood Remixed, electronics serve both to emphasize the groove and to highlight the incongruity of pain (or bewilderment of joy) that kicks like a mule in the throes of love and heartbreak.
Digital static is a part of the modern lover's journey however you define it, but normally doesn't have place among the organic garden of Rhye's recordings. In the spare moments that these songs go into the red, it works to upset our trance, like the sound of texts vibrating into a partner's phone that has been suspiciously turned screen side down.
Many of these are already unabashedly sexy songs, and as with Sade in decades past, the tasteful touch of purveyors of restrained remixes, such as Poolside on "Feel Your Weight," only deepens the sexiness, like studio tantra for the audio erotica of the original verses. A similar effect on "Count to Five," where the passionate hunger in the lyrics of the original is stretched and splayed into a languid, mellow elegy to Balearic bliss by Tensnake. Jacques Greene's techno sets a lengthy instrumental mood, so that when Rhye's vocal is painstakingly layered into "Song for You," the normally angelic quality is accentuated to dreamlike ends.
The crux of what makes most of these remixes so captivating is that they take a powerful interment, Rhye's voice, and not only re-contextualize it, but give it the freedom to repeat into nothingness, fade in and out like a mirage, or ride on the beat. A collection of standalone electronic heat for the coming, Rhye's voice, powerful even in a whisper, being brought by beats with all the wisdom and inevitability of the winter wind. (Last Gang)