Remix albums are usually just one of the smash-and-grab tactics by labels to stretch out the revenue an artist can make (see Rihanna, Lady Gaga and any other current pop divas for proof of this). However, when a group like Jazzanova releases a collection of remixes, it's an altogether different animal. Their remixes of others' material are the stuff of legend, so you know that they wouldn't put their material in the hands of amateurs. Featuring the likes of Atjazz and Alex Barcke, as well as Jazzanova members posing under different monikers, Upside Down is a collection of remixes to tracks that the collective have released over the past eight years and, for the most part, doesn't skip a beat.
Though it does span eight years of material, Upside Down features heavily from Jazzanova's 2008 album Of All The Things, so if you were a fan of that album, then you'll be interested to see what these reworkings of songs like the Jose James-featuring "Little Bird" and the Phonte-featuring "Look What You're Doing to Me" sound like. The few exceptions to be included from other works are "Glow and Glare" and "Dance the Dance" from 2002's In Between and the blazing Mr. Scruff remix of 2006 single "Boom Clicky Boom Clack."
All the remixes are stellar, but the standout of the bunch has to be "Lie," which features Thief (a collaboration between Sascha Gottschalk and Jazzanova members Stefan Leisering and Axel Reinemer). The original sounds like an unearthed Beatles outake, but the Soldiers of House strip the cheery instrumentation and replace it with an ambient track and shuffling percussion. What results is a distorted, downtempo exercise that would fit at any international lounge.
Only one track here gets the remix treatment twice, and that's "I Can See" which features Ben Westbeech. It's interesting to see the wholly different textures that producers Ye:Solar and Midnight Marauders bring out of the originally Motown-flavored track from Of All the Things. Ye:Solar decides to bring out the melancholy of the track, placing Ben's vocals against piano and somber horns that make it an almost completely different song. Midnight Marauders, on the other hand, amp the song up to a dance floor ready groove full of handclaps and synths. Whichever you prefer, you can't deny that both takes are damn good.
Is Upside Down a necessary addition to your music library? Yes and no. The 10 tracks featured on the disc (though it appears that its digital counterpart, for some unexplained reason, has six more selections) are definitely great, but are really made for those who are already fans of the Germany-based collective. If you are a purist, definitely cop this one. If this would be your first introduction to the group, it would be best start with In Between and Of All The Things first before delving into this one. That way you can truly appreciate what each remixer brought to the table here.