A year after the release of its last studio album, “Relaxer,” indie band alt-J is back with a new creation, “Reduxer.” A series of remixes of the band’s previously released music, “Reduxer” is a testament to alt-J’s hip-hop influences. The idea was born after a surprise collaboration between the band Twin Shadow and Pusha T on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” back in June.
“Reduxer” is a sort of reimagining of “Relaxer” that features headliner names such as Pusha T and Alchemist. Though indie and rap are two genres that aren’t normally connected, alt-J manages to seamlessly integrate the two in this indie-rap anthology without turning its sound into a confused soup of noise.
While this album isn’t the best for pumping up a party or as a workout playlist — besides the heavy bass on Kontra K’s “In Cold Blood” — syrupy smooth beats make “Reduxer” great study music or a casual listen on the way to class. It’s repetitive without being redundant.
A fresh take on an old classic, “House of the Rising Sun” adds spoken word poetry and layered grooves and vocals to this Southern anthem. Its heartbreaking and soul-filled prose keeps listeners interested until the very end, where a grainy voicemail set to piano tells the story of how the track was written. “House of the Rising Sun” leaves listeners wanting to return to it a second and third time.
There are two tracks titled “In Cold Blood” on “Reduxer,” but the version featuring Kontra K is particularly strong. The rapper brings a refreshing new aspect to hip-hop: the Dutch language. Despite the potential language barrier for English-speaking listeners, lyrics aren’t lost in translation. This track doesn’t stray too far from its original, keeping both its charm and its sound. Kontra K adds to the hit without overrunning alt-J’s simple, stripped sound.
On the other hand, some of the tracks seem a bit muddy after being remixed. “Hit Me Like That Snare” featuring Rejjie Snow is a new invention that doesn’t match up to its parent track. The rap remix itself is monotone and basic, though the synthesizer in the back does add what little variety the song has. While having two versions of the same song could have added to the album, one version being noticeably better than the other overshadows the intentions of including both. Jimi Charles Moody adds a heavier bass to his version that complements the track instead of conflicting with it.
Overall, “Reduxer” is a success. The band’s reinvention of its already successful sound was a bold move, but the collaborative minds behind the music turned this risk into a reward. On this album, alt-J expands on its previous work to create audial art that maintains and expands on the stories told on the original “Relaxer” album. The blending of indie and rap connects two communities that usually keep to themselves, musically.
While people can argue about whether or not “Reduxer” was relevant or needed, they can’t argue the quality of the content alt-J put out on the album. The group’s shift from its usual nerdy, hipster persona to a richer hip-hop club proves that alt-J has the potential to cross into uncharted territory. For listeners looking to expand their own boundaries, alt-J’s “Reduxer” is the album for you.