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Conclave’s self-titled debut has been hailed as one of 2021’s best, described as “magnificent” by Resident Advisor, “a vibrant house album that beautifully celebrates rhythms, collaboration and musical history.” The brainchild of New York City-based vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Cesar Toribio, it is that rarity in dance music: a conceptual project that never lets ideation (specifically, a celebration of the Afro-Latin clave rhythm as a transcendent musical key) impede its primary motive of putting bodies in motion.

Now with Conclave – The Remixes EP, four of Conclave’s finest tracks are imaginatively re-invented across five remixes by Photay, musclecars, Jenifa Mayanja and Mike Simonetti. The resulting sounds represent an extended play in the truest sense: a continuation of the spirit of Toribio’s explorations that adventurously takes the original compositions into welcome and unexpected territory.

Conclave Remixes Artwork

Photay’s “All That I Need (Remix)” brilliantly sets the tone. Anchored by an irresistibly syncopated percussive line, it accumulates perfectly placed rhythmic layers and accents, then drops in Cesar and sister Sharin Toribio’s sparse vocals amidst touches of haunting modulating organ and Bernie Worrell-esque synth squeals, all while largely dispensing with traditional basslines. It’s an intoxicatingly moody (re-)arrangement, reflective of Photay’s uncanny ability to generate momentum and evoke stillness at once. And it’s reprised in a more stripped down iteration for his lovely Photay Lullaby Remix, which dials back the percussion and plays up a simple thumb piano melody from the song’s beautifully bridge for maximum emotional resonance.

Assigned with the task of reshaping one of Conclave’s most kinetic tracks, Love Injection Fanzine/Records extended family members Craig Handfield and Brandon Weems of musclecars’s “Alati Yeye Chege (Remix)” shrewdly emphasizes the soulful intimacy at the heart of the original. Gradually building from congas, the duo unfurls a joyous and percolating four-on-the-floor groove, piano and synth lines nimbly darting about Cesar’s layered vocals with the finesse of the dancers it will surely inspire. Best of all, though, is a surprise false ending that gives way to an exhilarating coda – an eruption of percussion and flute that closes out the track.

When Cesar sings, “It presents itself so naturally” on “Relax” he may well have been describing Jenifa Mayanja’s “Relax (Remix).” A study in the strength of subtlety, it stays predominantly faithful to the song’s original structure. But Mayanja cleverly reworks the underlying rhythms in stuttering fashion and peels back keyboard layers to reveal moments in dub where her gorgeous counter melodies – in the guise of vocals and synth – revel. By contrast, Mike Simonetti strikingly delivers the most radically re-envisioned version herein with his tension-filled “Rise (Remix).” Swapping out the original’s melodic progressions the track is here re-vamped with an insistent single-note bass pulse that brings it an altogether new urgency.

Together these re-imaginations accomplish what every remix project ideally aspires to: present the songs in exciting new contexts while reaffirming one’s appreciation for the original material. Listen, relax, and stay a while longer.

Photay Remixes:
Arranged, Produced & Mixed by Evan Shornstein
Evan Shornstein (ASCAP)

musclecars Remix:
Additional Production: musclecars
Keys, Synths, Bass, Drum Programming, Percussion: Craig Handfield
Flute: Domenica Fossati
Additional Keys: Brian 'Javonntte' Garrett

Jenifa Mayanja Remix:
Arranged, Produced & Mixed by Jenifa Mayanja courtesy of Bumako Recordings

Mike Simonetti Remix:
Arranged, Produced & Mixed by Mike Simonetti

All songs written by Cesar Toribio (ASCAP) and Scott Scribner (ASCAP)
Mastered by Walter Coelho
Digital Distribution by Seed Worldwide
Sync/licensing by Terrorbird Media
Front cover illustration by Lisa Rampilli
Layout by Paul Raffaele

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