The Free Design were a somewhat lesser-known sunshiney psychedelic pop band from the late 60s, and last year the Light In The Attic label decided to pair the recordings of the group with some of the more well-known artists and remixers of the current day. The idea turned out to be a good one, as many of the remixers and artists had heard of the group and some even wondered how they'd rework the music of a favored obscuro pop group.
The Now Sound Redesigned is the CD release that collects the whole series of remixes and sequences them along with some interludes and other tracks that didn't find their way onto the original releases for a nineteen track, almost hourlong album of mixes that take the flowery group and turn them into everything from instrumental hip hop to drawn-out free jazz. The release opens with an intro track that actually does a pretty good job of explaining the group in a a short amount of time before Madlib drops an excellent remix of "Where Do I Go" that somehow keeps the original track fairly intact while at the same time transforming it into a rumbling beatfest. Peanut Butter Wolf goes mashup style on "Umbrellas," mixing in some Steve Miller Band and other tracks alongside the original Free Design effort for something that mostly works.
The Stereolab/High Llamas (each at times have sounded like the logical progression of the Free Design) version of "Harve Daley Hix," which layers in dense harpsichord and pinging electronics alongside the original, while Chris Geddes of Belle & Sebastian turns "2002 - A Hit Song" into a cheesy 4/4 dancefloor track that somehow works quite well. Styrofoam teams up with Sarah Shannon on the warm IDM-pop remake of "I Found Love" while Kid Koala and Dynomite D work "An Elegy" into a stuttering hip-hop/jazz beast that like the Madlib remix keeps much of the original track around while taking it somewhere completely different.
The Biz Markie-ish re-imagining of "Don't Cry Baby" by Koushik and Dudley Perkins is funny but feels a bit out-of-place on the release, while the Danger Mouse & Murs reworking of "To A Black Boy" completely breaks the flow of the release with its dark production and heavy lyrical content from Murs. Fortunately, Caribou provides a gorgeous, epic nightcap on the release with the nearly nine-minute free jazz reworking of "Dorlan Benediction," mixing melodica, chimes, vocals from the original track, and just about everything else as it feels like a hippie-style jam around the campfire. If you've never heard of The Free Design and are looking for somewhere to start, you should pick up one of the re-released versions of their original albums, but if you've already discovered the group and are looking for some (mostly) inspired remixes of their work, The Now Sound Redesigned is an entertaining little release.