They are a people, albeit a diverse and dispersed one, spread throughout the world, separated by geography and language, yet still connected through a rich and shared cultural lineage.
I’m speaking, of course, about remixers.
Remixers are electronic musicians who take a pre-existing piece of recorded music and turn it into something else, sometimes something else entirely. They delight in finding choice moments in the original and rearranging what was there until it resembles the source material yet feels wholly new, wholly its own.
As Hanukkah approached this year, I sent a note to various remixers, asking if they’d be interested in selecting a holiday staple, or a song from another festive Jewish event, and taking a stab at remixing it. The response was swift, strong, and positive—as was the supportive response from the musicians and bands who had recorded the originals from which the remixers would subsequently work. Permission having been granted by the originating musicians (or their respective record labels), the remixers dove in deep, enacting their alterations with everything from laptops to modular synthesizers.
To remix is to act with various intentions: to pay homage, to tweak, to update, to comment, to gloss, to cross-reference, to entertain, to reflect. One thing, however, that none of the remixes on this compilation intends to do is to correct; all the original tracks from which these remixes were constructed are excellent in their own right—there is no kitsch, no camp, no music-by-the-yard, no cloyingly infant-oriented forced cheer, no tongues in any cheeks, no winking among them.
And so, while some of these remixes are quite radical—just try to detect the sonorities of the klezmer original in ocp’s version of the Alexandria Kleztet’s holiday favorite, “Chanukah Chag Yafe”—everything done here was committed out of affection for the music.
The album’s content ranges widely, from the kid-friendly (the “Chag Yafe”) to lush ambient-pop renditions of “Maoz Tzur” and “Sivivon Sov Sov Sov” to hip-hop-derived takes on three klezmer favorites (“Od Yishama,” “Ose Shalom,” and “Die Goldene Chasene”) to an original by the New Klezmer Trio, “Thermoglyphics,” reimagined as a feat of traditional Eastern European android folk music. And of course it wouldn’t be a Jewish festivity without “Hava Nagila,” heard here moving back and forth between heavy synthesis and a piano/guitar performance.
As the project was nearing completion, I got in touch with a wise friend, one who knows far more Yiddish than I do—which is to say, he knows more than just words involving disappointment, food, bodily functions, and relatives. I asked my friend, “How would you say ‘remix’ in Yiddish?” Being wise, he thought better than to come up with a new word; he thought better than to reply with some snazzy neologism, some antiquated-sounding yet entirely newly created term, some ersatz steampunk Yiddish.
Instead, he sent me a steady stream of short phrases, each an attempt to probe, in Yiddish, what a remix is at its heart. The best of his probings, “anander mol, anander veig,” became the title of this set. It means, in a literal translation, “another time, another way”—old ways, reconsidered; old modes, remodeled; old music, remade.
Download the entire album. [.ZIP file, 47 MB]
Listen to individual tracks, or download them individually (on a PC, right-click on the song title to save; on a Mac use CTRL-click):
1. “Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages)”
Remix by: Mark Rushton (Iowa City, Iowa)
Original by: Dov Rosenblatt, Rosi Golan, and Deena Goodman
2. “Die Goldene Chasene”
Remix by: xntrxx, aka Harro van Duijn (Etten-Leur, Netherlands)
Original by: Dave Tarras (Permission from Shanachie/Yazoo Records)
3. “Sivivon Sov Sov Sov”
Remix by: Paula Daunt (Berlin, Germany)
Original by: Alicia Jo Rabins
4. “Ose Shalom”
Remix by: Diego Bernal (San Antonio, Texas)
Original by: Fourth Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra
Remix by: Dance Robot Dance, aka Brian Biggs (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Original by: New Klezmer Trio (Composed by Ben Goldberg)
6. “Chanukah Chag Yafe”
Remix by: ocp, aka João Ricardo (Porto, Portugal)
Original by: Alexandria Kleztet
7. “Hava Nagila”
Remix by: Roddy Schrock (Brooklyn, New York)
Original by: Paul Toshner and Felix Benasuly, who perform together as poi43.com (London, England).
8. “Yishama-O-Rama (Radiata Edit)”
Remix by: Cut Loose, aka Jen Bell (Wellington, New Zealand)
Original by: Klezmer Rebs
Cover Art by Brian Scott (boondesign.com)
Special thanks to: Aaron Bisman and JDub Records, Cedar AV, Elizabeth Chur, Jared Dunne, Gregor Ehrlich, Giselle Fahimian, Ben Goldberg and the New Klezmer Trio, Randall Grass and Shanachie/Yazoo Records, Shawn Kelly, Seth Kibel and the Alexandria Kleztet, the Klezmer Rebs, Josh Kun, Thomas (Mystified) Park, Alicia Jo Rabins, Leonardo Rosado, Dov Rosenblatt, Roger Ruzow and the 4th Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra, Paul Toshner and poi43.com, Alec Vance, Rob Walker, Adam Williams, Archive.org, Bandcamp.com, drop.io (RIP), Freesound.org, Soundcloud.com.
Marc Weidenbaum runs Disquiet.com, a website dedicated to ambient and electronic music and sound art. He lives in San Francisco and has written for Nature, Down Beat, The Ukulele Occasional, and elsewhere.