Music News

Various Artists

The concept for this collection is dubious on paper -- Christmas classics refurbished by electronic producers, who, when given too long a leash, can ruin just about any timeless favorite. Christmas Remixed, though, while something of a mixed bag, has enough redeeming moments to make it a suitable stocking stuffer for fans of Thievery Corporation and their loungy, down-tempo ilk.

Hard-line carol fanatics might cringe at the license taken by some of the beat-smiths here, most notable of whom are Dan the Automator of Gorillaz fame and jungle/breakbeat producer Mocean Worker. But for the most part, they keep enough reverence for the source material to keep this from being a mere exercise in the tongue-in-cheek. That's not to say Bing Crosby singing "The First Noel" over remixer Attaboy's electro-clashing house track doesn't have a kitsch quality, but it's executed with enough attention to detail that a self-respecting DJ could conceivably slip it into an eclectic set. Other tracks that manage to satisfy the nostalgia itch without making a mockery of the original are the playful Mulato Beat trip-hop version of Louis Armstrong's already sorta-funky "Baby It's Cold Outside" and Dan the Automator's scratch-collage take on Dean Martin's "Jingle Bells."

It's only when the artists attempt to span too large a chasm in styling actual remakes that compilation becomes an inconsistent listen. Mocean Worker, for instance, spreads one of those elastic, zapping jungle bass lines underneath the triumphant horns from "Joy to the World," which brings to mind images of a Christmas morning spent nursing an ecstasy hangover. And the diversity of remix treatments is a tad too narrow -- most everyone sticks to a hip-hop breakbeat template; something way out there like a minimal techno redux of "The Little Drummer Boy" would have lent some breadth to the program.

Besides that misstep, most of the cuts give a well-executed and clever -- but not cheeky -- overhauling of that Christmas schmaltz that we all begrudgingly love.

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Darren Keast