Ayumi Hamasaki

Ayu-Mi-X, Vol. 6: Silver

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Having taken a liking to the idea of releasing multiple remix albums after any given studio album, Ayumi Hamasaki's "Silver" rendition of the sixth remix album takes a core of Hamasaki's pop vocals and builds an elaborate series of layers around them, converting what was once a basic pop vocal set into a deep, occasionally dark electronic club run. While Hamasaki by herself can pump out a strong pop anthem without too much trouble, when her tracks are in the hands of some of the upper echelons of Japan's DJ scene, the results can be altogether intriguing and different. The album opens under Black Strobe's work, introducing a deep thump around Hamasaki's vocals for an interesting tonal offset and an entirely dance-worthy groove. The 808s and the tempo get kicked up for a remix by Freeform Five, while Playgroup focus their work more strongly around the vocal track (a bit of a rarity here, surprisingly). Force of Nature does their best impression of a Juno Reactor track while incorporating long cascades of Hamasaki along the way, and Daishi Dance leaves a ballad almost untouched, save for an additional piano track and an out of place house beat. High Contrast uses Autotune to its fullest as they chop their way through a vocal track, and Carl Craig almost forgets to add the vocals back in after an extended ambient break or two. The trick in this album of remixes is that some DJs take the opportunity to focus on Hamasaki's formidable vocals, enhancing an otherwise lackluster ballad or two. Others, however, take more energetic numbers and remix them into massive club anthems. Both styles add noticeable energy and drama to the pieces, leaving an end result that may not be entirely devoted to Hamasaki's music, but is an exciting listen nonetheless.

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