Various Artists

Ars Antiqua Remixed

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What a great idea -- take recordings of compositions from the Ars Antiqua period (in the 13th century, a time when the stark and single-minded religiosity of medieval music was giving way to the more florid Renaissance and composers were starting to get adventurous) and set them in the context of electronic dance music, sort of like what Enigma did, only with real music and less moustache-twirling sexuality. The artists involved just make it that much more enticing: Spacetime Continuum, Dara, Soulslinger, Q Burns Abstract Message -- these are all guys who know from funky breakbeats and obscure sources. So maybe it's excessive anticipation that makes this album a little bit disappointing, but some of the blame also goes to those contributors who made insufficient use of the source materials. Jamie Myerson does a fine job with "Reis Glories," which opens with samples of wooden flute and keening vocals, paralleling both with wispy synth and a dubwise jungle beat, and Soulslinger's excellent "Untitled" delivers the goods as well, with a long and episodic excursion into the depths of trip-hop and drum'n'bass based on a series of long single-note samples and strangely cut-up vocals. But on Spacetime Continuum's "Dance Royale," there's precious little Ars Antiqua to be heard in the remix, and the same is true of contributions from Q Burns Abstract Message and Dara. Their entries are perfectly fine, but could have been so much more interesting if they'd engaged more deeply with the music they were supposed to be remixing. Still, this is a very enjoyable album overall.

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