This post is going to be a little all over the place. It started out with one song from Vaults, “Premonition,” which I heard last night while watching season 4 of “The Magicians,” a sexy, silly subversion on the “Harry Potter” genre. Entertaining stuff. But the tune appeared in the end credits, and it just sounded so familiar, like I’d heard it before.
Turns out, I haven’t. Vaults is a U.K. downtempo electronic trio, a bit trip-hop, torchy, soulful, and dream-bent in a smoky cabaret ambience. They remind me of London Grammar via Portishead. At least, that was my first impression upon hearing “Premonitions.”
This one’s another track I somehow missed when it debuted in 2014. It’s since been included on their impressive 2016 debut LP “Caught in Still Life.” And it’s taken me an additional three years to stumble upon it myself. Fortunately, I did, because I seem to be somewhat addicted to it, playing it with absurd frequency.
It’s got one of those downbeat saunters, punctuated with a measured intensity that carries some heft and weight. There’s a thick synth-bass beat of percussion underneath the whole thing. And although a bit stark and minimal, it’s got a warm underbelly that rises above the mood and brood with Blythe Pepino’s sultry vocals.
Check out “Premonitions” below.
“Premonitions” from the 2016 album “Caught in Still Life.”
Of course, once I sought out this single, I found a few other gems from Vaults, starting with this remix of “Premonitions” from Jacques Greene, a respected Canadian DJ and producer. He’s done remixes for Radiohead and How to Dress Well. And he’s known for incorporating R&B and U.K. garage with dubstep and house.
His take on “Premonitions” brings a bit of all that into the mix, upping the tempo, while playing to its strengths. It’s still got the torch-lit allure, yet strung up with a percussive patter that jolts it out of its smoky slumber. It works on a different level without sacrificing the original’s mood and aura.
Here’s Jacques Greene’s remix of “Premonitions.”
“Premonitions (Jaques Greene Remix)” from the 2015 EP “Remixed”
After a bit more digging, I ran across the song “One Last Night.” It stood out because it had over 50 million plays, which struck me as WTF? Then I realized that it was used in “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Now, don’t hold that against me. I haven’t seen that film, and probably won’t. But the song ain’t half bad – even a little classy. Not as striking as “Premonitions.” And clearly more aimed in the pop-oriented direction. I’ll include it just the same, so that I can satiate anyone’s curiosity.
Here’s “One Last Night,” sans the 50 shades.
“One Last Night” from the 2016 album “Caught in Still Life.”
I’m going to wrap up this Vaults eulogy with a few remixes of songs that originally appeared on “Caught in Still Life,” as well as one that comes from their 2014 EP “Vultures.” I’m cool with the originals. But these reimaginings play closer to my heart.
First up is VONDA7’s dub remix of “Hurricane.” I think this one falls more in the deep tech-house category, with a sly emphasis on dub beats. It’s a brilliant interpretation of an already moody, electro-downtempo blues-infused crawl. This rendition samples the provocation, streamlines the bits into dreamlike weaves, and layers a hearty tech-tick-tock rhythm underneath, reassembling into an ethereal pulse of percussive emotion.
Makes sense, too. VONDA7 is a Polish-born, Berlin-based electronic artist and DJ who found a groove in French house and techno. Her original material can skew a bit harder or wander off into sunnier analog vibes, often doing both simultaneously. But her heart definitely seems committed to the tech-saturated world.
Here’s what VONDA7’s done with her dub remix of “Hurricane.”
VONDA7’s Dub remix of “Hurricane” from the 2017 EP “Hurricane (Remixes/Pt.1).“
And for good measure, take a gander at the original …
“Hurricane” from the 2017 album “Caught in Still Life.”
Next up is Maya Janes Coles’ remix of “Vultures.” She’s an award winning U.K. songwriter, producer, and DJ that draws inspiration from rap and trip hop, while also sifting through slinky layers of dub and techno. She’s pretty darn talented, too, particularly her more downtempo affairs, which makes her perfectly suited to take on “Vultures.”
Maya takes this Vault’s cabaret ballad and tacks on a lonely deep and spacious edge, flushing out the hidden potential, and expanding the atmosphere into tripped and hopped grooves of further dimension. It’s a bit off-kilter, versus the straight-laced warmth and softly seductive vibe of the original’s organics.
Here’s Maya Jane Coles’ introspective interpretation of “Vultures.”
“Vultures (Maya Jane Coles Remix)” from the 2014 EP “Vultures.”
And of course, Vaults’ original …
“Vulture” from the 2014 EP “Vultures.”
Lastly, renown DJ and producer Sasha pits his hip-huggin’ spin on “Cry No More,” the lead track off their debut album, and a bit of a dubstep-inspired grind, beneath a breakbeat bed of melody and chiming percussive synths.
Sasha, of course, does what he does best, transforming “Cry No More” into a minimalistic mountain of progressive house, adapting it for the long haul, clearly intended for the nocturnally minded and dance floor driven. There’s definitely mood to go around, but less dub and grind and more move and groove.
This interpretation takes a bit of time to build, as does most of the progressive persuasion. Yet, it still captures the tone and intent of the original, while still doing its own thing.
Here’s Sasha’s remix of “Cry No More.”
“Cry No More (Sasha Remix)” from the 2015 single.
And the source …
“Cry No More” from the 2017 album “Caught in Still Life.”
So that’s my praise of Vaults, all spun out of a single track I heard last night, during the end credits of a series based on magic and fantasy. I didn’t expect to get as carried away as I did. But they’re one of those artists, where once I start digging, I uncover all types of connections to artistry and styles that suit my tastes. Just look at all these great remix collaborators, taking equally strong source material and slapping on a new coat of paint, giving them an extra shine and polish, a new point of view to provide endless hours of listening enjoyment.
Anyway, I’ve included a bunch of links below, if you’re interested in pursuing any of these talented remix contributors. I’m guessing more than one will be appearing in some of my future posts. Until then, enjoy all these wonderful selections from Vaults. Peace.
Maya Jane Coles: