Breath Re-Imagined Vol. 2 by Desert DwellersRelease date: July 17, 2020
I picked up this album for review completely cold, as someone who doesn’t know Desert Dwellers’ work at all. But these world-inflected trance beats sounded completely familiar on first listen – like an old friend…. Past favourites like albums by Astralasia, Suns of Arqa and Transglobal Underground, plus treasured 1999 compilation Arabesque, which I finally tracked down on CD a few years ago, all feel part of the melting pot that go into this work.
Breath Re-Imagined Vol 2 is a remix album of a 2019 outing by Desert Dwellers, who have handed the tracks over to a set of house producers to do with as they will. I decided to review this album without first listening to Breath. There are remix albums that can stand on their own without recourse to the source material. There are others that are totally derivative and can’t hold a candle to the original or, worse, utterly miss the point and ruin it for all concerned. I own remix albums that I love (the Mark Lanegan Band’s A Thousand Miles of Midnight is a recent remix highlight for me) and ones that totally mess with the album they are building on (personally, I’ve never heard a remixed Massive Attack tune that deserves to exist on the same planet as MA’s original – that might just be me, though).
What we have here is a blissful magic-carpet ride through the dunes of the Sahara. ‘Dancefloor-ready’ they might be, according to the press release, but there’s a mixture of bangers and much more chillout tunes. The inflection of ‘world’ music is ever present, and forms a thread through the whole album that makes it very listenable, and completely cohesive.
Opener ‘Closed Eyes In A Dust Storm (Coss & Iorie Black Sand Mix)’ sets the scene perfectly with a laconic beat, trancey atmospherics and subtle keyboard melody. It conjures the theme of exotic travel, far-flung destinations and the potential for adventure here, and this continues throughout the album. Other highlights for me included the hand-drumming of ‘Traversing The Endless Road (Alvaro Suarez Remix)’ alongside the haunting chants in the background. There are three mixes of this tune on the album, and this one has the most atmospherics. Both remixes of ‘Dreams Within a Dream’ are good in different ways. The ‘Derun Remix’ is very tuneful and melodic whereas the ‘Nihii Remix’ is more beat-driven. It’s interesting to hear what different producers have done with the same track. ‘To Be The Air (Forever & Ever Remix)’ is perhaps one of the most trancey and interesting of the whole set, with mystic pipes and far-off chanting vocals adding to the vibe.
Unencumbered as I am with an opinion on the source material, this is a delightful and unified set of remixes that sit together as a complete album, with one vibe of worldliness and mysticism. There is perhaps the odd remix that features a nice beat without too much else going on, but on the whole the tunes each bring something different to the party. Don’t take it too seriously and enjoy the vibe. Perfect for an hour musing about times when we can once again travel with ease to foreign climes.