Three years after the release of ‘This Is All Yours’, when we finally met ‘Relaxer’ back in June last year, we were reintroduced to alt-J in all their creative glory. But that wasn’t all. ‘Reduxer’ is a reimagined hip-hop take on the album, featuring global hip-hop artists such as Pusha-T & Danny Brown. Following the same track listing as ‘Relaxer’, the album is a true reinterpretation. ‘Reduxer’ certainly delivers on the bands experimental front, however it has left some of us quite disorientated.
Lending itself to ‘Relaxer’, the album’s opener is a reimagined version of ‘3WW’, featuring Lil Simz. This track encompasses everything which could be considered problematic with the album. Despite Simz’s impressive stripped back vocal, the track is a hard listen. It almost feels as if you’re being dragged quite abruptly between two genres, providing a listening experience reminiscent of a jolty rollercoaster ride, rather than a smooth amalgamation of the two.
‘Pleader’ (featuring Pj Sin Suela) suffers almost the same issue, with overbearing bass lines, which after more than one listen become quite difficult. The adaptation of ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (featuring Tuka), on its own feels quite out of place. Additionally it loses the spine-tingling charm of the ‘Relaxer’ version almost entirely.
But it’s not all bad.
‘In Cold Blood’ (featuring Pusha-T) is undoubtedly the album’s star. Unlike some of the tracks on the album, Pusha-T’s vocal entwines perfectly with the reworked version of the original track, succeeding effortlessly in this idea of ‘re-imagination’.
Additionally, ‘Adeline’ (featuring Hex & Paigey Cakey) and ‘Deadcrush’ (featuring Danny Brown) shine, offering succinct reinterpretations which are entirely reimagined, yet the original tracks are decipherable, still retaining their identity and individuality.
In essence, if you want an alt-J or a hip-hop album you won’t find either here.
‘Reduxer’ offers an interesting work which takes the bands apparent hip-hop influences to a new height and embraces their experimentalism. Only a band like alt-J would attempt to bring together two genres on almost opposite ends of the spectrum, and produce a final product.
The band succeeds in their idea of ‘re-imagination’ and although some of the tracks are an odd listen, I cannot help but feel like that’s all part of the point. Looking back at their previous work, everything with alt-J is always perfectly considered and I do not think that’s any different with ‘Reduxer’.
If you want to listen to something different which doesn’t let you settle down, you’ll love this album. If you want an easy, ambient and indisputably gorgeous listen- stick with ‘This Is All Yours’.