Review: Electric Swing Circus Remixed Vol. 2 by Chris Swinglis

I’ve covered a lot of Ragtime Records releases on this blog, and with good reason. As one of the UK’s most significant labels for electro swing, there’s always a deal of anticipation leading up to anything that they put out. On Tuesday, the label released Electric Swing Circus Remixed Vol. 2, with many of the genre’s favourite producers collectively creating various remixes of tracks from the past few years of the ESC’s output. Featuring six tracks, this release has multiple remixes of ‘Connected’, ‘Minotaur’, and ‘Invisible Man’, the three tracks featured on their most recent EP, which I reviewed back in 2019 HERE!. As I spoke so highly of that particular EP upon its release, I was imminently curious as to how this would compare.

The first remix is Featurecast’s version of ‘Connected’, which brings housey vibes, along with his characteristic bass. There’s a nice contrast between the brass and the electronic elements, being mixed perfectly – both in production, and composition; and the breakdown halfway through gives the song an almost quite emotional quality. This is a fantastic track to start on, and it’s going to take some beating. Next up, it wouldn’t be a Ragtime Records release without a C@ in the H@ feature, and despite working across so many styles, he always manages to maintain such a distinctive sound. I remember him once telling me how the best thing about electro swing is the fact that you can take your tracks in so many different directions, and do such creative things with them; through its various tempo shifts, and all sorts of different ideas being brought to the forefront, this remix of ‘Minotaur’ exemplifies that to the fullest effect.

The only remix of ‘Invisible Man’ comes from Wolfgang Lohr, of which I think this is his first feature on the label – and he immediately brings his recognisable house influence. It sounds like it could be a little tame and standard at first, but as soon as the beat drops – these worries are completely scattered – as we’re thrown into a whirlwind of chaos. The standard is absolutely first-rate – a complete tour de force. And then we have another remix of ‘Minotaur’, courtesy of Duke Skellington. He’s really been bringing these dark EDM tones lately, and they’re put on full display again here. There’s a lot going on in the lower end of this mix, so I’d definitely advise listening with a good pair of headphones. It’s undoubtedly a change-up from the rest of the release – going in much less of an obvious party direction than every other producer has chosen to; again, this really shows the dexterity of the electro swing genre.

On the complete other end of the scale, Tuxedo Junction are 100% fun, which is immediately signalled through the sampling of a cheesy jazz intro for their remix of ‘Connected’. That being said though, the bass drop is filthy, demonstrating that this duo can turn their hand to a very wide variety of moods and feels. There isn’t actually too much of the source material utilised either, so it’s an inventive take on the ESC original, and another great addition to the release. And finally, perhaps the track I was the most intrigued about is the final remix of ‘Minotaur’, from Tom Hyland himself – guitarist for the band. Hyland has been DJing for a good while now, and this is his first foray into production. His infectious in-person energy has absolutely translated across to this remix, bringing upbeat vibes, and maximising each and every element of the original track – with just a hint of disco as well. He’s nicely changed some of the harmonies through his compositional choices too. This whole release has been really great fun, and this ending is just ideal.

I really enjoyed the various remixes throughout this release. I love the extent to which the complete freedom of electro swing has been thoroughly explored throughout, demonstrating just how much potential there is for this genre directionally. There’s certainly a lot of house, but there’s also elements of funk, dubstep, disco, and much more. Whilst sticking largely to the Ragtime Records family of Hyland, C@ in the H@, Duke Skellington, and Tuxedo Junction, the fact that they’re branching out and including tracks by Featurecast and Wolfgang Lohr is also a great addition, and will be much appreciated by fans. All of these producers can certainly stand strong in their own right, and when working with an act like the Electric Swing Circus, can create something exceptional.

Written by Chris Swinglis Date: 2021-04-11

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