Sivion “Butterfly Sessions: Remixed by Freddie Bruno” (album review)

ILLECT Recordings (February 12, 2013)
Review by Aidan Severs
Buy this album
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I have my copy of Sivion’s ‘Butterfly Sessions’ next to me, but have resisted the urge to play it afresh. Why? Well there are two approaches to reviewing a remixed release; the first is to compare, the second is to analyze it as a completely new piece of work. The original seven tracks produced by Dert will remain unplayed on this occasion; as you will have guessed, I’m taking the second option. Sivion and Freddie Bruno, both of Deepspace5, hope to breathe new life into Illect Recording’s 2010 release by offering up the same tracks but with new beats (but y’all already knew what remix meant didn’t you?).

Whilst perhaps the production is the focus on this release, it’s still a Sivion album and therefore the beats should be supportive of the rhymes. Sivion has a likeable flow and tone – perhaps the DS5 MC who’s easiest on the ear – and although subject matter varies he has a clear witness. With his mature approach to Hip Hop there’s very little posturing and braggadocio and there is a definite feeling of Siv taking his responsibilities as a rapper seriously. That’s not to say the music’s only for the po-faced; infact, Freddie Bruno’s creations really help to keep things bouncing. ‘Do Not Disturb’ would definitely make it onto a compilation of ‘Rap Love Ballads About Hip Hop’ as Sivion’s personification of the genre is done exceedingly well (with a healthy nod to ATCQ’s ‘Bonita Applebum’).

So, the beats; what are they like? Do they work? Well, it would be forgivable to think that these were the original beats because they do mesh well with the vocals. On tracks like ‘Older Now’ and ‘Everything is Everything’ Freddie Bruno has taken the melodies of the sung choruses and gone beyond ensuring that musically nothing clashes – these really are tailor-made. I’ve just been through to check and, yup, my suspicions are confirmed; each of these tracks has been deliberately to make the listener nod – and to me that’s a sign of realness. The organ and flute combination on ‘Older Now’ brings an additional mellowness to the subject matter whereas the relentless string stabs and synth riffs (as well as DJ Aslan’s scratches) on ‘Brand New Day’ picks up the pace and gets adrenaline going. The swelling synths and yet more jazz flute on ‘The Inevitable’ contrasts enough with the funky keys of ‘Life’s Bigger Than You’ without breaking the mould of the album’s sound.

O.K., so some of you want to know about the comparison; overall there is a different sound. Dert’s productions were largely in the Flying Lotus vein; sparse drums, wobbly synths and bleeps and off-kilter rhythms whereas Freddie Bruno’s are in an updated boom-bap style. In many ways this remix album will be the easier one to listen to for most rap fans as it does have a more traditional aesthetic. Whether you’re a fan of the original or a newcomer to this album, it’s more than worth giving up 25 minutes of your listening time to but be prepared to then give up more time for the inevitable replays!