Alan Lomax Remix Project – Tangle Eye
Taking its place alongside other releases uniting urban rhythms with
seemingly forgotten American idioms, the first project from the New Orleans
based DJ duo Tangle Eye use Moby's "Natural Blues" as the thematic
endoskeleton for a full-length release.
With full access to the Alan Lomax archives they re-contextualize, not remix
as the title "The Alan Lomax Remix Project" implies, certain recordings to
reveal their inherent cultural timelessness. Most of the original tracks,
from which the samples originated, were vocal performances with only an axe
falling flush on wood as accompaniment, allowing the duo the opportunity
with beats, organs, and several well-known New Orleans musicians, to rather
easily immerse these 44-year-old samples in modernity.
The results, like Verve's Bird Up and Blue Note’s US3, are
tepid at best. The rock steady buoyancy of "Chantey" or the North
Mississippi Allstars inspired turn on "Heaven," are infectious in their mix
tape mannerisms. On the roots-reggae of "Home," the Prison intonations stand
upright, proud, as Corey Harris improvises several slide guitar phrases
underneath, sounding like something Bob Marley could have recorded in 1975
to protest Africa's bellicose situation.
One glaring question regarding this release breaks the head nodding
equipoise: To what end? Lomax chronicled a specific period, detailing the
lugubrious American experience girding these songs. They are austere songs,
with a wistful yearning and a pervading sense of biblical salvation. Tangle
Eye's jazz-funk-dub embellishments wash over these cultural intricacies as
much as they might want to highlight them.