Since Benny Tones released his debut album Chrysalis, on BBE Music back in April 2011, Benny has headed off on his travels. Benny’s globetrotting adventures have seen circumnavigate the globe several times. During his adventures, Benny has often worked with, and acted as engineer for his fellow countrymen Electric Wire Hustle. He’s played everywhere from his native New Zealand, the Glastonbury Festival, Europe and even in dusty Texan bars after dark. Adventures, I’m sure he’s had a few. Memories he’ll have many. To help remind him of his travels Benny’s brought back some intriguing mementoes.

Now usually, when people decide to travel the world, they bring back a few souvenirs of their travels, to remind them of their adventures. For most people, it’s usually a few photos, postcards or tourist wares. Not Benny Tones. What Benny’s brought back from his travels is not only totally unique, but a welcome surprise for his many fans. To remind Benny of his travels and adventures, Benny’s brought back thirty, yes thirty new remixes of the tracks from his Chrysalis album. These thirty tracks will be rereleased on 14th January 2013 as a digital download, entitled Chrysalis Remixes.

Among the thirty new remixes on Chrysalis Remixes are remixes from remixers that Benny’s met on his travels. So this means, remixes from Paris’ Tayreeb, Rome’s AD Bourke, Melbourne’s Opiuo, Berlin’s Comfort Fit, San Francisco’s B Bravo and England’s very own fLako. Then there’s remixes from Benny’s fellow New Zealanders TRUTH, Alphabethead and Sal Rosa. The list of DJs not only reflect Benny Tones’ extensive travels, but bring new life, meaning and energy into eight of the tracks from Chrysalis. With seven tracks chosen, sometimes, several remixers are given the chance to remix a track. What they’ve come up with is not only fascinating, but compelling. You’ll realized that when I tell you about some of the remixes on Chrysalis Remixes. Before that, I’ll tell you about Benny Tones.

Over the past few years, New Zealand’s music scene has been thriving. It’s one of the most vibrant musical scenes you’ll come across. Benny Tones is at the heart of that scene. Among the other artists at the heart of New Zealand’s vibrant and burgeoning musical scene are Fat Freddy’s Drop, Ladi6, Karlmarx and of course, Electric Wire Hustle. Indeed, Benny’s performed with and engineered for Electric Wire Hustle during his recent globetrotting travels. During the rise and rise of New Zealand’s musical scene, Benny’s been at the heart of it.

During his career, Benny Tones has undertaken a multitude of musical roles. He’s worked as engineer, DJ, producer and acted as sound tech for Electric Wire Hustle. As an engineer, Benny’s worked with Julian Dyne, Pacific Heights, Solaa, Harbour City Electric and Module. Given Benny’s experience working with other groups, it’s no surprise that he decided to set up his own audio engineering company, Organik Muzik Workz. This also worked well with his career as a producer.

Benny Tones has been producing his own beats since 2002, the year he moved to Wellington, to be at the heart of New Zealand’s musical scene Before that, he’d been a DJ. Moving from DJ-ing to production seems a natural progression for many DJs. However, not every DJ turned producer has what it takes to forge a second career.

Two things a producer needs is talent and patience. Benny has plenty of both. He spent the next four and a half years working on his debut album, Chrysalis. Eventually, Benny Tones released his debut album Chrysalis, on BBE Music back in April 2011. This was just the first step in Benny Tones’ musical journey. The next step would see him globetrotting, and in the process, collecting thirty musical mementoes of his adventures. These musical mementoes were thirty remixes of eight tracks from his debut album Chrysalis. They’ll be released as Chrysalis Remixes, which I’ll now tell you about.

Chrysalis Remixes features remixes of eight tracks from Chrysalis. The first of these is Aero:soul. There are four very different remixes from K*Saba, Negghead, Myele Manzanza and James Skylab. Each remix brings something new to the original track. Two remixes of Aero:soul demonstrate this perfectly. There’s a real moody, dramatic, ambient sound to K*Saba’s remix. Synths play a crucial role in this space-age, broody and cinematic soundscape. By contrast, Neggehead’s remix brings the slow, crunchy drums to the front of the mix. They play an important part in the arrangement, along with a pounding bass and squelchy, old-school synths. Bursts of vocals flit in and out of the arrangement. Soon, a melancholy, moody, but hopeful track unfolds. In many ways, it’s like two new track. Compare the two tracks side by side and you’ll hear very different takes on the original. What’s interesting is how each remixer started with the same stems, transforming them into such different, eclectic and captivating remixes.

Just like Aero:soul, On My Way has been remixed by four remixers. Again, they’ve looked at the original song from very different perspectives. Jetjaguar, Night Panther, Dunk and fLako’s approaches are unique. Whereas fLako uses the synths at the start, introducing the drums and Mara TK’s vocal, Jaguar uses drums to make a dramatic impact. He then a slight Eastern twist and adds effects to transform the vocal. Nightpanther’s Remix uses warm, shimmering synths, hissing hi-hats and a soaring vocal. Then a transformation takes place. Soon, the original track is deconstructed and reconstructed. Space is left, the vocal takes centre-stage. Everything else plays a supporting role, including handclaps, washes of synths and drums. Although each remix brings something new and innovative to the track, by a short head, Nightpanther’s remix is the best of the four.

Four remixers are given the task of remixing Home. Again, each of them have a unique take on the original. Ghost, TRUTH, Comfort and Dizz1 each get to work on the original, reinterpreting the original track. Although each remix is of the highest quality, Dizz1’s Kick Can I Kick It remix stands out and grabs your attention. Thunderous drums pound, not only testing the tolerance of your speakers, but your neighbor’s patience. As drums crash, the remix unfolds. Synths, bursts of samples and then Joe Dukie’s emotive vocal enter. Multi-tracked vocals, percussion and then later, dark, broody, Germanic synths join the mix. It seems the longer the remix goes, the better it gets, becoming dark, dramatic and pulsating. Of all the remixes on Chrysalis Remixes, this is one of the many, many highlights.

Odyssey seems almost seems autobiographical for Benny Tones. It certainly describes perfectly his musical globetrotting adventures. Three remixers, B.Bravo, Kamandi and Alphabethead take charge of remixing Odyssey. The result is three contrasting remixes. B.Bravo’s Lover’s Bounce remix has a lovely, warm sound. It place LP’s ethereal vocal centre-stage. As building blocks, stabs of mellow, shimmering keyboards and slow, spacious, crunchy drums are added. When the power and presence of the drums and the warm, melodic keyboards unite with LP’s vocal, it’s a truly irresistible combination, where musical influences and genres unite seamlessly.

By the time Chrysalis Remixes gets to Nevermind, Benny’s called upon five of his remixer friends. Each don their remixing hat, enter their laboratories, taking turns in twisting and transforming the stems of the original track. Called upon, are Tayreeb, Hooves and JPS, Sal Rosa, Quadrangle and Scratch 22. Play each track alongside the original and you’re spellbound, captivated. You wonder how they went from A to B? Innovative doesn’t even come close to describing each track, especially Quadrangle’s Deepstep remix. He toys and teases with you, before taking you on a mesmerizing, musical journey. Synths slither alongside Mara TK’s echoey vocal. Crunchy drums join twinkling synths, before Quadrangle twists the track. It veers between overpowering and broody, to elegant and ethereal. From there, you hungrily await the next twist in the tail. Layer upon layer of music reverberates, echoing, not just grandly and proudly, but in the case of the vocal, subtly, sparingly and elegantly. When Quadrangle mixes these layers of music together, the result is mesmerising, full of subtleties and surprises aplenty.

Five different remixers are given the chance to give Fire Fly a musical makeover. This includes AD Bourke, Nightshade, Chromatic, Organikismness and Opiuo. Each remix is like the different colors in an artist’s palette. Of the five, Opiuo’s 2008 Remix seems the most subtle when it meanders into being. That’s the first curveball. First appearances can be deceptive. Just synths, bursts of vocal, percussion and drums combine. Soon, it’s time for Opiuo to dig deeper into his palette. Using broader brush strokes, the music grows in power and presence. Synths beep, buzz, and squeak, drums are crisp and crunchy, while the vocal is echoey and punchy. Gradually, Opiuo decides to use even bolder brush strokes. The music pans from left to right, before washes of synths grow in drama, becoming moody and pensive. They provide the perfect backdrop to the heartfelt vocal. After that, one of the best, most moving and evocative remixes on Chrysalis Remixes takes shape, while proving the old adage, that first appearances can be deceptive.

The last remix on Chrysalis Remixes is Chrysalis, the title-track to Benny Tones’ debut album. Here LRD JXN, PepC & Coca, Christoph El Truento and Galapagoose take turns in reinventing the track. Each remixer brings their own ideas and influences to the track, but its LRD JXN who really makes an impression. Synths, gallop along, punctuated by bursts of urgent drums. Together they prove the perfect foil for the urgency and emotion in Sacha Vee’s vocal. Handclaps join squeaks and beeps from the banks of synths. Together, they add to the cascading drama, that unfolds at breakneck speed. A sensual, breathy vocal is swept along, by wave after wave of urgent music. It drives along, until eventually, you sense the track will reach a dramatic, gothic climax. There’s nowhere else to go. By the end of the track, you’re almost spent and exhausted. It’s been an enthralling musical roller coaster journey, one that’s variously grandiose, urgent and frenzied. Not only that, but it’s one of the real highlights of Chrysalis Remixes.

In many ways, Chrysalis Remixes tells the story of Benny Tones’ globetrotting musical adventures. It must have been like a musical Odyssey, that took him to the four corners of the globe, before he returned Home, to New Zealand. Big towns, small towns and even a Little City were all places he visited. At The Centre of each of destination, was music and musicians. Just like each country and its culture were very different, so were the remixers he met. They each brought something rich, eclectic and very different to the original track. The only thing they had in common, was they started with the same building blocks, each song’s stems. After that, it was up to each remixer to bring something, new and innovative. Every remixer involved in Chrysalis Remixes did so. Although sometimes, up to five different remixers remixed a track, each end-result is totally unique. Not once do two remixers come close to producing the same track. That’s what makes Chrysalis Remixes such a captivating and compelling project.

Not once when listening to Chrysalis Remixes did I get the urge to skip a track. Instead, it was like reading a book, each remix was like a new chapter, a new chapter in the musical adventures of Benny Tones. Apollo, the god of music, must have been smiling on Benny Tones during his travels. Indeed, thirty times Apollo watched over Benny, when he met each of the remixers who feature on Chrysalis Remixes. None of these remixers let Benny down. Each remix deserves its place on Chrysalis Remixes. I can see where Benny Tones was coming from when he said there was so many great remixes, that he decided to release them all. Thankfully, you won’t have to wait too long to hear Chrysalis Remixes. It’ll be rereleased on 14th January 2013 as a digital download, by BBE Music. Chrysalis Remixes not only sees the music on Benny Tones’ debut album Chrysalis reinvented, with new life, meaning and energy injected into the songs, but show how many talented remixers are out there, awaiting discover. To me, that bodes well for 2013, and the future of music. Standout Tracks: Aero:soul Negghead Remix, Home Dizz1’s ‘Can I Kick It’ Remix,Odyssey Alphabethead’s Afterlife Remix and Chrysalis LRD JXN RMX.


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