Sir Ivan’s latest release, Imagine: The Remixes, takes a look back at his initial success with a cover of John Lennon’s classic “Imagine”. Ivan has assembled an all star cast of top dance producers and DJ’s to give their individual spin to his initial effort and each of those people or teams delivers magnificently. The twenty seven remixes on the album might seem overwrought to some, but there is a distinctive flavor to each one that saves the entire set from redundancy. No remix specialist attempts, however, to usurp Ivan’s original primacy in the piece – his voice remains the beating heart of each cut and essays Lennon’s iconic lyrics with reverence and undying hope. Naturally, the production is quite superb and stresses the expected dance aspects, but there’s an unquestionable amount of artistry here far exceeding expectations.
Imagine: The Remixes begins with 7th Heaven Mix and Production’s take on Sir Ivan’s song. Jon Dixon and Andy Weston opt to focus on the song’s entertainment value by strengthening its core elements for airing in dance clubs, but they likewise present Sir Ivan’s voice in a surprisingly theatrical way by delaying its entrance. When his voice finally emerges from the mix, it’s a rather momentous moment thanks to how they’ve built such great anticipation for it. Dor Dekel’s remixes are much different fare. The Israeli based music producer and DJ creates sonic art from Sir Ivan’s track by thickening the musical swirl, giving the tempo much more urgency, and introducing more spoken word moments into the mix. Marc Stout’s remixes feature some of that same artistic spirit, but his take on the song is ultimately more American and, hence, more overtly commercial than some of his counterparts on this release. Like Dekel, however, Stout is expert at wringing tremendous atmosphere from Ivan’s pre existing song.
Razor and Gudio’s in Heaven have three remixes included that combine playfulness, surprising musicality, and a certain amount of atmosphere in three pleasing packages. Like the other contributors to this release, their radio edit isn’t merely a truncated version of the full version but, instead, stands on its own as a condensation of their interpretation. European electronic music composer and producer Roger Shah helps the album reach another high point with his inventive trio of remixes. There’s a lot of the aforementioned playfulness present in his work, as well, but Shah is also unable to resist imprinting his own touches on the song. Despite any indulgences, Shah keeps his eye on the ball and the song never turns far from its first principles. The Stadium remixes are brash, sonically imposing, and yet guaranteed to please. They leap out of the speakers and engage listeners in a much more direct way than any others before.
This is a memorable collection immortalizing an underrated moment in EDM history – few performers before Sir Ivan’s arrival would have dared to marry social activism with the genre in such a way or show the gumption to cover such unusual material for the form. Like Sir Ivan’s original moment in the sun, Imagine: The Remixes entertains and, a decade plus later, reminds fans of the impressive solidity of Ivan’s first achievement.
9 out of 10 stars.