On her debut studio album, ‘Take me Apart’, Kelela explored love, lust, loss, and the numbness left by it with elegant detachment, accepting her emotionalism with both humour and self-criticism. The directness of her words paint intimate theatrical scenes, where she exposes her ebulliently nuanced interpretation of ordinary life.
Take me Apart’s sidereal production and shape-shifting blend of expansive, psychedelic R&B and soulful pop left plenty of room for others to experiment and lay their cunning production.
Celebrating the album’s first anniversary today, the artist shared its extended remixed version, ‘Take me A_part, The Remixes’.
Over twenty tracks, you can hear the sounds of both established and emerging artists from Europe, Brazil, South Africa, and North America. Other than executively producing this record alongside Asma Maroof, Kelela also recorded new vocals and invited others to add their voice to it. Kelela is an artist that never paid much attention to convention, and it must be mentioned here that none of the artists enlisted is in this project are your typically and topically packed for the mainstream. There are some familiar faces, such as Haitian-Canadian DJ and producer, Kaytranada, New York’s Wavy Spice, Princess Nokia and Brixton’s Gaika, alongside some lesser-known, emerging artists like gospel-experimentalist serpentwithfeet and Portuguese producer Nídia.
Some tracks were significantly reworked, and there are some sonic experiments in this project that would be interesting to see how they could be further developed.
Kaytranada’s reworking of ‘Waitin’ is an atmospheric slow build jam, but the climax at the middle of the track makes it perfect opening to any night. Same as ‘Jupiter‘ new identity under Awful Records producer, Ethereal’s sumptuous minimal drum and bass.
Increasing beats per minute, are Brazilians LGBTQI+ activists Badsista and Linn da Quebrada. They re-imagined ‘Better’ as deconstructed club banger laced with carioca funk, that also allowed for a perfect bi-lingual moment towards the end of the track. ‘Onanon’s original ambient arrangement got a vibrantly fresh new identity under DJ Lag’s thumping South African minimal house.
‘LMK’, one of the album’s lead singles got wholly reworked, title and all. On ‘LMK_What’s Really Good‘, you can hear Kelela’s newly recorded vocals on an 808-laden track, side-by-side with Cuppkake, Princess Nokia and Junglepussy, in an anthemic, ravening all femme-counterassault.
Building on their previous collaborations, Warp Label signee, Gaika is back on this project. Their collaboration is perhaps the most complex of this body of work, and their complementing vocals are perfectly executed on ‘Frontline’.
One of the main surprises of this body of work is Kelela’s stripped-down version of ‘Enough’ alongside harpist, composer, model, and trans rights activist, Ahya Simone.
While some of the new mixes are ready to hit the dance floor tonight, others are not meant to be danced to, at all. This project is better appreciated if you allow your mind to wander, absorbing each track as an individual experiment, and see where it might take you.
Conceptually, this project condenses the collective’s dense mesh of musical and cultural influences, showcasing how Kelela’s musical contribution is interpreted by a group of people that, at first sight, might appear not to have much in common. By recruiting other culturally astute artists, whose activism pervades to other areas other than music, this project helps to build a bridge beyond one’s most immediate cultural boundaries. Perhaps, the most significant gift of this album.
‘Take me A_part, the Remixes’ is an open invitation to explore the multiple parallel realities and the world these artists have built for themselves. Who knows? Perhaps you can grow to be found of them too, like she did.
Stream LMK_What’s Really Good, below.
Words by Catarina Ramalho