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Synth Album Review: "Let the Light In: Remixed" by From Apes to Angels (and Guests)

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Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

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Initial Impressions

From Apes to Angels’ Let the Light In: Remixed offers fresh, unique interpretations of the band’s synth pop songs from a wide range of remixers drawn from the ranks of the #synthfam. The remixers each add their own flair while allowing the strongest parts of the original album—the lyrics and Millie Gaum’s vocals—to remain in the foreground.

One reason that this remix album works is the respect that the remixers have for the source material. They all have individual takes on the original tunes, but they don’t lose sight of what made the songs work in the first place. I am always a fan of tasteful remixes, and on that basis, this album takes the right approach.

At the same time, each of the artists chosen to do a remix brings their own voice to the album. There’s a clear sense of the different styles and perhaps even musical philosophies of the remixers that gives each track a sense of interest and individuality. I find that the album keeps my ears and brain engaged.

One other feature of this album that I enjoy is how well foregrounded Millie Gaum’s voice and the song lyrics are in the remixes. The emotional impact of her singing and the well-crafted words of the songs isn’t lessened by any of the remixes. If anything, they intensify the impact with their well-chosen modifications and alterations.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Believe” begins with misty, distant sounds that crescendo as shimmering synths like delicate crystal chimes float through the music. I am drawn to that clear, clean sound. A bouncing, reverberating, medium-low synth carries a tightly stacked, descending melodic line as rising glowing synths climb to contrast with it.

Millie Gaum’s strong voice tells us that “after it all, I still believe it” almost like a mantra. The track breaks into a rounded, swelling surge of extended synth notes that call out with more caressing sounds. The beat hits, shaping the track, propelling it onwards along with the “clapping” that keeps time. Underneath the bright notes sing and call out over the sparkling chimes and rising chords.

The ghostly, floating vocals move into wide open space as “Perfection (Manege Remix)” begins. The full bandwidth of her vocals fills the space as the solidly throbbing drums move and thick, heavy bass pulses in along with a steady drumbeat. The remix is much smoother and more ethereal than the original version.

I enjoy how Manege foregrounds the strong vocals, bringing them into sharp focus. The synths here are rich and glowing while the bass descends below them. This is a more stripped down piece of music than the original which lends it more clarity.

“Turn The Dark On (The Subtheory Remix)” retains the reverent feeling of the original as it begins with quick burbling notes carried by a hollow, round synth. There’s a surging heartbeat of bass, rising and falling, moving behind the gentle, intertwined vocals.There’s still a hint of melancholy given by the vocal melody.

The flowing, shining quality of the original song is retained. I do enjoy how The Subtheory adds a delicate, glowing string sound that echoes out into the track’s open spaces. There’s a stronger synthwave feeling to this track thanks to the insistent drum and bass pulse.

Vast sonic spaces open up and massive drums throb behind the uplifting vocals to kick off “No Reason (Barracuda Remix).” A distant, lost drift of full, medium-high notes moves over a shifting series of wide open, reverberating synth chords. I enjoy the strong dance-pop sensibility of this remix with a pumping beat and the light that pours from the track.

Millie Gaum's voice cries out over the shifting synths and the deep bass patterns. The track hits a section where bouncing, medium-high synths burst out with a lambent glow. The drums dance in ear-grabbing patterns as the rhythm pulsates through the track and energy radiates from the music.

“Fly! (Atmospheric Wannabes! Remix)” comes to life with a deep, active bass line and jangling, elevated, nasal synths. The throbbing, deep drums add a club vibe to the music while it retains the same airy flow and delicate chiming notes of the original. It also retains the strong mixture of Millie Gaum and Femmepop’s voices as they blend.

I am enamoured of how the chiming, gliding melody sparkles over the throbbing beat. There’s a solidity to the drums and bass that contrasts with the more airy floating feeling of the lyrics. I also like the constantly moving line of quietly oscillating, medium-high synth.

Watercolour washes of rich, full sound sweep under the equally full, warm vocals to open “Motorway (The Identity Matrix Remix).” The waves of sound are joined by a synth that seems to mix chiming and trumpeting sounds as it plays a hypnotic melodic pattern.

The deep bass pulsates and flashes of crystal synth dance through the track. A breathy flow of sound moves under Mille Gaum’s strong singing before the vocals become choppy and distant.

There’s a caressing, flickering melody that glides over the insistent beat. I enjoy how that melody becomes a solo that coruscates with energy, leaping wildly and flying along, before slowing down into gentler drift again. As in the original, there’s a wave of cut glass synths that glimmer and a distantly dreaming pattern of piano sound.

“Why Don’t You Come Back Home (Subliminal Remix)” creates an acoustic, folky feeling that contrasts quite strongly with the original. It’s a contrast that I must admit I quite like. A bright guitar melody and a fluttering snare drum start the track off.

I like the way that Millie Gaum’s voice works with the guitar as it dances in slow patterns, alive and shining, while the snare drums move on. The electric guitar comes in with even more shine while violin arpeggios arc through the music in glimmering lines. The lithe vocals distort slightly and the snare drum moves with the piano that sings and flows.

There’s warm, computerized synth chords and a loose easy drumbeat to begin “Works Out (Whiskey Hallucination Remix).” There’s a strongly digital feeling to the track as Mille Gaum’s vocal melody wanders over the smooth, easy drumbeat and floating synths that drift through.

I like the more shadowed quality of the remix in comparison with the original. A surging, organ-like synth leaps into the music and the atmosphere has an open, hollow quality to it. I am drawn to the way that the lead synth bursts in with sharp, cold notes that have a precision to them as they move.

Conclusion

Let The Light In Remixed is the kind of remix album that I enjoy in which the source songs are treated with respect, the remixes are tasteful and unique and the overall feeling of the original music remains while each new remixer adds an individual take to the songs.

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