Moodymann's Nightmares on Wax Remix Is a Subterranean House Destroyer

The oft-masked Detroit mainstay flips the English producer's lowkey dub-pop cut "Deep Shadows" into something more surreal.
May 23, 2018, 2:29pm
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Both in production and persona, the masked Detroit music Moodymann is so unpredictable and obtuse that to even remark upon it is basically a cliche. He largely shirks interviews and most non-DJing public appearances—our colleagues over at THUMP once referred to him as "dance music's last true mystery." The facts we do know are simple: he loves Prince, house music, and rollerskating, but what that means for his music has meant so many different things over the years. As both a solo artist and a prolific remixer, he's always been keen to take the established forms of dance music and turn them on their head—stretching funk hits to endless odysseys, flipping pop songs into bleary-eyed dancefloor deconstructions, and more generally proving the mantra that, yes, house is a feeling, more than a sound.

That malleability is a big part of what drew the English producer Nightmares on Wax to enlist him for a remix of his own single "Deep Shadows." He says as much via email. "Moodymann is a producer I’ve admired for a longtime—everything about his musical vibe is unpredictable but yet still engaging," He wrote. "So it was a case of asking him to remix this song and get ready for the unexpected."

And the unexpected did indeed emerge. In its original form on Nightmares on Wax's January album Shape the Future, "Deep Shadows" was a dubby chiming cover of the Little Ann's late 60s soul curioof the same name. But Moodymann—true to his mandate—pushes the straightforward pleasures into stranger territory. He digs out the song's rhythmic center, swirling singer Sadie Walker's voice amidst a smoggy haze of synth strings, occasionally dipping through the fog to offer acidic techno destruction. At over five and a half minutes, its not one of Moodymann's outright epics, but it still leaves plenty of room for him to cover a lot of ground—diving from the more peaceful moments to the bawdy, mechanistic ones with reckless abandon. Its an ecstatic energy even though, as per usual the track slinks along at a low slung tempo. Even when he's twisting up familiar sounds into dizzy contortions, Moodymann always just coasts.

This flip has a way of highlighting some of the emotional heft of Nightmares on Wax's version, which is one of the great reasons to dig into any remix in the first place. Fortunately, there's a 12" out on July 13 that'll allow even more explorations of his headspace, with reinterpretations of the track from Illa J and Nightmares on Wax's own alter ego DJ E.A.S.E. in addition to the Moodymann and original versions. For now, check out Moodymann's flip above and Nightmares on Wax's upcoming tour dates below.

Nightmares on Wax tour dates:
May 25 - Belgrave Music Hall - Leeds, UK*
May 26 - World Island - Leeds, UK
May 27 - LSTD - Bristol, UK
May 30 - Trees - Dallas, TX
May 31 - The Mohawk, Austin, TX
Jun 2 - 1stBank Center, Broomfield, CO
Jun 3 - Urban Lounge, Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 6 - Imperial, Vancouver, BC
Jun 7 - Nectar Lounge, Seattle, WA
Jun 8 - Wonder Ballroom, Portland, OR
Jun 9 - Mezzanine, San Francisco, CA
Jun 11 - The Fonda Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Jun 12 - The Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, AZ
Jun 13-15 - Sonic Bloom Festival, Rye, CO