Two psychedelic wizards joined forces back in 2013 for an all night jam session that exceeded both artists' expectations. Terra Nine ( Mike Westcot/NZ ) and Squazoid ( Jermeny Bringue/FR ) hooked up at a party in Squazoid's Paris studio where they began playing music without any thought of where the journey would lead. As time passed, with Terra Nine providing classical elements in the form of cello and viola and Squazoid laying down the bass line, they both realized that they had conjured up something rather special indeed.
By the end of the evening, their collective unconsciousness had given birth to an exceptional song so full of depth and emotion that it reduced both artists to tears. From there, several other artists, after hearing the track, expressed an keen interest in remixing it, providing their own interpretations on an instant classic. The result is an exceptional EP from Altar Records.
The EP begins with the original track. Running to approximately five minutes in length, it is a little short when compared to most tracks you come across in the psychedelic chillout realm. However the range of emotion and energy created within that short time span blows a lot of other music away. It has some beautifully trippy delayed guitar sounds that Mike created with plucked viola - that almost sound U2 like in way ( when U2 didn't suck ). Haunting, hovering hallucinations of holographic realms come to mind as you get wrapped up in the ethereal atmosphere of it all.
|Mike Wescott and VJ Intelliki Of Terra Nine|
Given how manic ( in a good way ) Squazoid's music can be I was quite surprised by the result - this is polished, sensuous music, comparable to the emotions derived from Jaia's classic "After The Rain", OTT's "The Queen Of All Everything".
The first of the remixes is provided by Peter Ardron . Peter is a super talented musician with a long history in the psychedelic electronic genre. A classically trained pianist, he has formed a number of bands including Orchid Star, created music festivals and continues to work on various project both musically and visually. His style can be a bit hard to pin down but its always quality no matter what he produces. I really dig his solo work such as the track "Qawwali Roll" on the old "Electr'Oriental 2 " compilation back in the early 2000's.
His remix of Karuna is a delightful dubby house version with a captivating shuffling groove. A perfect example of how to produce a quality remix. Keep an eye out for his new ( 10th ! ) album "Unexpected Pleasures" due for release this year. As an aside if anyone knows the riff at the very start of this remix please drop a comment below - I've heard it before and it's driving me mad not knowing where I heard it !
Following Peter is a remix by the legendary Kick Bong. This version takes the original track on more of an uptempo sojourn. It retains many of the signature elements of the original but gestures it on it way down a slightly different path. Maybe its just me but it does seem to have a bit of a gloomier vibe going on, maybe due to The Cure like guitar riff giving an introspective, Gothic feeling. Kick Bong and Squazoid are well known collaborators having worked together on many occasions in the past. I guess it helps if you both live in France. Everything they cook up together is good and this track is no exception. Quality listening to be sure.
Ralph Knoblock has been around for over two decades but may not be so familiar to you if psychedelic downtempo is your thing. After two decades of producing thumping psytrance, Ralph released his first downtempo album last year under the "Unknown Reality" moniker. This remix is a real gem. It's as if Ralph has taken every individual element of the original version and injected them with steroids - everything just feels beefier ! None of the emotion is lost of the original either so this really is an exceptional version in my opinion. It doesn't deviate too much from the original in its overall structure but it definitely has a more deep psybient vibe to it. Ralph has quite a few singles and EPs available for download ( some of them for free ! ) on his Bandcamp page so be sure to check it out for more superb listening.
Next we have the first uptempo remix on offer, this time by psychill legend Astropilot. Astropilot is famous for his celestial psychill sounds and bassline driven tracks in that Ultimae Records/Altar Records style. Personally I find this track a little disappointing and feel he could have given this one a bit more oomph. It starts well but does have, for most part, a feeling of a drum loop slapped over the original without much change until the last minute. I would have enjoyed more builds that play on the potential emotions available from the original. Quite a stomper best suited for early morning dance floors.
Russian Anton Morozov aka Cloower Wooma does a much better job of things I think. Here we have an uptempo version that really hits the sweet spot. A deep bassline and gated effects build on floating melodies that fall like showers of sparking jeweled rain. This one sits comfortably in that chillgressive ( a slowed down version of progressive trance ) genre so frequented by artists like Alwoods, Dense, GMO etc. It does finish rather abruptly which is a bit of a shame - would have been nice to hear it smoothly fade out into the vanishing horizon leaving you on a high. Great remix all the same.
The final remix comes from one of the new stars of he psychill/progressive trance scene - Suduaya. Suduaya is a project by French producer Louis-David Roquefer. After a number of remixes he gained fame with the release of his highly acclaimed debut album "Unity" in 2013. Since then he has been in much demand on the international festival circuit as well as remixing duties. He has quickly became known as an expert remixer and this version of Karuna he provides is a testament to that. Here, he packages the original track into a mini cosmos of retro futurism and sends it hurtling out across the galaxy. Its anthemic but maintains that original intimacy of the original version. Beautiful as ever from Suduaya - he certainly understands the idea of a big hook.
Altar Records and all artists involved should feel justifiably proud of this wonderful release. Not only does it continue to solidify the reputation of Altar Records as one of the leading psychill labels on the planet, it highlights, how when artists listen to their hearts and not their minds, that beautiful art can be created for the world to enjoy.
Let's hope that Terra Nine and Squazoid get together for more of these impromptu sessions where they switch off and let the energy of the cosmos guide them in the creative process.
Bandcamp page with some super cover design by label head DJ Zen.