Law of Attraction: The Remixes
Piano: Benito Gonzalez
Bass: Matt Dwonszyk
Drums: Corey Garcia
Mike Casey has been receiving attention for many years now. I interviewed him in 2016 as an emerging star, and since then, he has, well, emerged. His innovative, powerful experimentation sits easily alongside his interpretation of more traditional delivery.
His first album, Sound of Surprise: Live At The Side Door, rightly received critical acclaim. His ‘Law Of Attraction’ album in 2020 saw him take some different musical pathways, and the new release, ‘Law Of Attraction: The remixes,’ sees mike reworking and mixing the tracks into new patterns and delivery. I asked Casey to explain the backdrop to this release, and he said, “I’ve long been inspired by electronic & hip hop production, dating back to my DJing days of middle school through freshman year of college. It’s about time that I challenged myself to incorporate my long-time ear for that world of sound with how I think about jazz, and the last few years have seen me making moves in that direction 2019’s Surprise! The Remixes which I executive produced, curating an external group of producers to remix my 2017 & 2018 live albums The Sound of Surprise & Stay Surprising as well as 2020 & early 2021 collab singles with producers from around the world while stuck inside (some of which were released in between singles from the original 2020 Law of Attraction album).
For 2021, I thought, ‘why not try remixing myself this time (with the exception of one track by fellow sax/producer Ike Spivak who was in the very ensemble that work-shopped the original song – Squeaky Wheel – that I later asked him to remix for this album), starting with my most recent album, and flip the whole thing on its head to the nth degree, exploring the electronic production & sound design skills I learned abroad in Spain at grad school, juxtaposing in-the-moment improvisations from the July 2018 Law of Attraction recording session with post-production with the skills I’d developed since? I couldn’t find any reason not to, and it seemed like the perfect sonic bookends for these few years of my life as an artist and for my 5th album in 5 years: Law of Attraction: The Remixes, largely produced on a whim over the final two weeks of 2020. I hope to eventually make remixes for other jazz artists as well as continue to explore electronic original collaborations to push myself beyond the sonic boundaries of the acoustic realm.”
Law of Attraction opens the album, and immediately a club-like atmosphere is developed with the electronic backing, steady bass rhythms, and interspersed whistle-tone. The sax weaves a melody across the track, which develops across the track. It is busier, and the sax is subtler than in the original, and the overall effect is less pure with individual lines, like the bass, almost vanishing, but it is enjoyable.
Dagobah is a spacious, airy piece with layers of electronic additions, rhythmic changes, and where the original track is pure sax driven, here it is sax led, but all manner of infill sounds explore the possibilities around the theme. The bass solo of the original is replaced by guitar, and electronic noises, which again add to the imaginative outlet Casey has found to work his sounds around.
Shift is almost outrageous in its innovative use of the sax and electronic additions, the percussion adding emphasis and devastating blasts behind at times. The whirring feel of the final third is like you are being taken down some musical rabbit hole. The heart of the original is still strong, but the body now encloses it with sensual flesh.
For Fun, You Scroll is short, eclectic, and varied – many sounds included in just over a minute.
The original Spoon was a jazzy, upbeat, free-rolling track and the remix here is glorious, with a Latin twist in electronic interpretation. Halfway the sax blasts the melody, loose reeded, perfectly melding with the echoey electronic keys which filter in.
Squeaky Wheel in the remix has a shortened, gentler intro than the 7 minutes long Squeaky Wheel ( Take 2) on the previous album. There is still the sax on melody, the percussion, and the piano working together to create incredible sound blasts which feel like one huge upwell, but there is also the investigation, the scratching, diving, and turning of the sound with the electronics mastered in.
Best Part was good in the original version and remains a strong, sax-led track of beauty with Casey’s tone and control to the fore, while Gordon’s Unforgettable is recognizable and reworked to within an inch of its life.
There are also remixed versions without the sax, which make interesting listens, especially For Fun, You Scroll, and Spoon.
Re-imagining his breakthrough 2020 Law of Attraction studio debut album in a variety of electronic contexts, juxtaposing his unique taste in jazz fusion with influences across dubstep, drum & bass, lo-fi, glitch hop, neo-soul, and synth hop, which begs the question – “is this still jazz”? for some, but for others, it is simply an extension of the jazz music to which Casey is devoted. Casey is described as a melody poet, and stepping forward as an electronic producer beyond the saxophone is fitting for this explorative musician.
The album is an interesting one because the re-imagining of the numbers has proved an interesting journey for Casey, and the sounds created are enjoyable. The sax-less mixes allow you to hear the rhythms and additions. I felt some of the solo work from the original tracks was lost somehow and replaced with something still imaginative but somehow less pure, but that was perhaps just my take. Casey is proving an ever more experimental and interesting musician, and my recommendation for this album is to buy both the original and the remix if you can. Both are different but hearing the workings around the remixes, you can understand something of how Casey’s musical mind is working, developing, and goodness knows what is coming next.
Casey says he is on a mission to be a passionate vessel for jazz – and here, he is just that.