WHAT?! - William Onyeabor Remixed

I must preface the following criticism by saying that I really enjoyed this album, as I did its predecessor. However, the more I thought about it, the more something struck me as off with this release. What?! - William Onyeabor Remixed is Luaka Bop's latest release by Luaka Bop in conjuction with Moog. Moog actually made William Onyeabor branded synthesizers for use by the musicians for this series. From Moog's own website, they claim that Luaka Bop had heard that Onyeabor was a Moog retailer in Nigeria, and thus their relationship was born. For me, as much as Luaka Bop seemed to be trying to expose the music of William Onyeabor with the release of Who Is William Onyeabor?, this particular album emits a faint odour that reeks of exploitation.

While this criticism may seem rather harsh, I can't help but feel this way given the nature of the album and the relative short time between the two releases. It's as if the idea for this album germinated only as an afterthought given the predecessor's relative success. Why do I say this? Well, this is a cover album with 10 tracks, 8 of which come from the Who Is William Oneyabor? album, and the song "Body & Soul" is covered 3 times. This is not to say that the artists who cover the material do a bad job. In fact, they do a really good job, and their interpretation of the music is fantastic. But this nagging feeling kept creeping into my head while I was listening to this album, and I felt the need to express it.

Despite my reservations about the seeming intention of the album, the music is superb.

"Body and Soul (Remix)" by David Terranova is my favourite of the three Body and Soul covers. The track has a smooth nu-jazz/house feel that is reminiscent of St. Germain's Tourist album; it hypnotically grooves along for nearly 8 minutes. The remix of the The Vaccines "Do You Want A Man (John Hill, Rich Costey Remix)" is full value. The addition of that Onyeabor flair really adds a thump and groove to this song. "Ye Ye (Remix)" by Daphini is slightly darker in tone as compared to the rest of the album, but the pulsing bass really pushes this track forward, which allows the synth sounds to really envelope the sonic environment. 

This album is perfect for the onset of summer. There are plenty of tracks to keep the party rolling. 

Final rating: 3.75/5

--Fredy M. Iuni hosts Hiway 1, Sundays at 1:00 pm on CJLO