Four months on from the release of David Walters’ hit Nocturne album, the Marseille singer/songwriter’s penchant for creative re-invention is on full display on this new EP that shows off the creative dexterity of DJs and producers from Europe and the Caribbean.
Featuring a stable of DJs and producers from France (Folamour, Synapson, Patchworks/Voilaaa); Germany (Henrik Schwarz); Portugal (Batida); the Netherlands (Pushin wood) and Guadeloupe (Déni-Shain, Mister Francky; Woodini) the EP enacts Walters’s resolutely international and collaborative artistic vision.
Paris-born DJ/composer Walters has long encouraged others to re-interpret his work. Indeed, one might say it’s a defining characteristic of his oeuvre, so much so that earlier albums have on occasion included differing versions of his songs on the same release.
Take the now talismanic Walters’s song, “Mama.” The tribute to Walters’s grandmother and the resilience and wisdom of all Afro-Caribbean women was the first single on Walters’s 2020 LP, Soleil Kréyol; then re-appeared on the Nocturne release one year later (after providing the foundations for an EP of mixes by longstanding musical confrère Patchworks in 2019).
Here, Henrik Schwarz’s take on “Mama” – the German DJ best known for his mixes of Ebo Taylor and Pat Thomas - introduces a distinctive keys motif, shifting the scene to dancefloors (far removed from the song’s original lilting, lyrical vibe).
If there’s a through line for the new remixes collection it’s the EP’s delicious groove. See, French producer duo Synapson’s version of “Baby Go” that’s sustained by disco dreaminess, strings for enhanced effect, playing around with momentum. Or the gorgeous Folamour-helmed “Sam Cook Di” sustained by the intricate Romantic sensibility of 90s Parisian House.
The inclusion of Folamour – the Lyon-based DJ/producer charged with carrying the torch of French electronica, check out his Mix Mag cover from April this year – in the EP line-up is quite a coup.
Other highlights are the EP’s twin re-invention of the song, “Papa Kossa” – a homage to the Cameroonian saxophonist/singer Manu Dibango, dubbed “Papa Groove” who passed away in March, 2020 – by Lisbon’s Batida and also DJ team, Déni-Shain and Mister Francky, who are currently based at the legendary Debs studio at Point-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe.
Batida (aka Pedro Coquenão) a DJ, born in Angola; raised in the Portuguese capital’s suburbs, whose music has been lauded by BBC6’s Gilles Peterson offers a particularly captivating remix of the song written for one of the giants of West African music.
While the first “Papa Kossa” allowed for the ensemble of master musicians - Malian master kora player, Ballaké Sissoko, French cellist Vincent Segal and percussionist Roger Raspail - to shine, the Batida remix strips the music back, transforming the piece into a delicate bird-like structure deep on anticipation. The Déni-Shain and Mister Francky mix, meanwhile, emphasises the tune’s buoyant essence.
Another immediate classic is the Woodini remix of “Sa En Yé” that breaks the musical elements down to a kind of deep super structure, starting with Walters’s voice – in close – to then add all the other parts, jangly piano, descending chords and percussion.
The recording of the Nocturne album – released in February 2021 – epitomised the notion of “unplugged” - 100 % live, no over-dubs or re-recordings, the fact that the musicians were performing “without headphones” (no safety net) led to the creation of a work of “rare sincerity” as Heavenly Sweetness label owner, Franck Descollonges recalled
The Nocturne remixes release maintains Walters’s essential spirit of collaboration; his desire to create music that is a bridge between places and people. But whereas, the first Nocturne album was deeply involved and meditative – a master class of musicians whose careers stretch back four decades or more – Walters’s remixes EP is all about contrasting voices and visions, spanning the globe.