ne of the most recognizable bands on earth recently released a remix double-album, but we can talk about Radiohead another time. Of the 19 lesser-known remixers that appear on TKOL RMX 1234567, it is Jacques Greene who shines brightest with a take on “Lotus Flower.”
Unless you’ve been following London’s Night Slugs label closely over the last year or so, Greene will be an unfamiliar name. It’s no coincidence that Radiohead’s Thom Yorke handpicked him for the compilation, however: Greene is one of the best things going in electronic music right now.
And I mean right now. The young Montreal-based producer’s first officially recorded appearance was on last November’s essential Night Slugs Allstars Volume 1. The Look EP and a Cassie remix followed in December. Mary Anne Hobbs started playing him around the same time. White label 12″ singles, more EPs, and a determined touring schedule have culminated in the “Lotus Flower” remix. The ascent seems rapid.
A handful of enlightening interviews coupled with these plentiful live dates put things in better focus. His father introduced him to electronic instruments at the age of eight. He acquired his first MPC early in his teens, and Greene embraced house music around the same time he began to fully embrace house music.
You can hear the influences of house in songs like “Lay it Down” and “Good Morning,” but if he were just another hopeful house producer, there wouldn’t be cause for commotion. What Greene is doing is far more adroit: Rather than relying exclusively on house, he uses it as a base to incorporate his other obsession, contemporary R&B. The sutures are deftly erased, resulting in a hybrid as emotionally evocative as it is danceable.
The secret is his use of both the human voice and, most critically, the bass. His fondness for pitched-up chipmunk-style vocals are nothing new in this crowd — just ask Burial, or Mount Kimbie, or a host of other artists surrounding Night Slugs doing the same thing. But the bass isn’t just head-pounding thumps. Sometimes it’s attacking, sometimes it’s decaying. Sometimes, as in his Kelly Rowland remix of “Motivation,” it’s not there at all.
As a result, it’s the vocal loops, rubbery synth lines, hard snare snaps, and myriad assortment of heartbeats he uses as drums that carry his tracks. Minutes pass seemingly full of negative space, but the opposite is true — Greene tweaks quietly somewhere in the back of your subconscious before gradually reintroducing a dormant melody in one of your headphone’s channels when you least expect. It’s a lesson he’s learned well from 90s R&B slow jams.
Though hard to narrow down, the three best examples of his work can be found for free on his Soundcloud page. The first is the “Lotus Flower” remix, which easily eclipses the original in emotional intensity and compositional execution. The second is his deep (and deeply rewarding) RinseFM podcast from March. The third is Greene’s best original, “Another Girl.”
With such obvious talent, and just barely into his 20s, Jacques Greene foregoes flavors of the week for a simple, refined aesthetic. In the static of modern music conversation, Greene’s voice is one of clarity. There’s no better time than now to find it.