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Virgo Four – It’s A Crime review

While the humble remix has long been a trusty staple of dance music culture, it’s rare to hear a genuinely innovative or aurally stunning rework. Too often, labels see the choice of remixers as part of the marketing process, making decisions on sales targets rather than artistic merit. Luckily, some labels do “get it”, though. Rush Hour is one of those labels. When they asked Space Dimension Controller and Falty DL to remix Anthony ‘Shake’ Shakir’s loopy Detriot techno classics, they knew they’d plumped for two new school electronic producers who would take Shakir’s grooves in thrilling new directions. So it proved, with both remixes now considered near classic re-interpretations.

This new 12” and digital release clearly shows evidence of similar thinking from Rush Hour. This time round, it’s Virgo Four’s dusty Chicago jack getting the remix treatment, with Caribou and Hunee providing the remixes. Like the choice of Shakir remixers, these are both inspired picks. Caribou, in particular, is an interesting choice. Dan Snaith has taken on a flurry of remix comissions in recent times, with this effort dropping alongside tweaks of Art Department and Radiohead. Prior to that, the thrillingly out-there rework of Kelley Polar from 2008 was the high watermark for his ability in this area.

In its original form, Virgo Four’s “It’s A Crime” – first released on the brilliant Resurrection box set – is a cheery, piano-laden Chicago jacker from the tail end of the 1980s. Snaith’s version, however, is an altogether more atmospheric beast. Where the drums were previously simple and unfussy, the Canadian opts for dubbed-out live drums and hissing jazz cymbals. There’s a weary new vocal from Snaith, which spars with samples of Virgo Four’s original chorus vocal. There are also superb jazz keys, a touch of 303 wizardry and a seedy atmosphere that recasts the song as a late night lament sung by a busker in a dimly lit back alley. It’s mesmerizing.

Hunee’s version is almost as inspired. The Korean-in-Berlin takes the original’s piano-laden cheeriness and runs with it, turning in a version that recalls classic Inner City or Ten City. Think soaring synth strings and horns, deliciously thick synth bass-driven grooves and clattering 808 handclaps.

Matt Anniss