There’s a cheeky sense of humour (not to mention copyright infringement) about the Harmonimix bootlegs that certainly warrants a release on an anonymous white label. Of course, in the information age it’s next to impossible to stay anonymous for too long. The fact that these ‘alternative’ versions of Lil Wayne’s ‘A Milli’ and, brilliantly, Destiny’s Child’s ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’ should be attributed to a certain Mr. James Blake has swiftly become common knowledge.
Even if they hadn’t previously been outed as his work, both tracks here have Blake’s sonic hallmarks stamped all over them. In a similar manner to his ‘Stop What You’re Doing’ remix, he takes the source material and constructs a new track over the top, adding layer upon layer of increasingly dissonant harmony until the music simply can’t support its own weight any more. It’s testament to his version of ‘A Milli’ that it stands out amongst its hordes of other remixes, the use of saccharine toy keyboard melodies somehow managing to convert the original’s bragging aggression into something surprisingly heartfelt.
The detuned dementia of ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’ is the real winner here though. It’s not simply because Destiny’s Child’s original has managed to avoid the kind of ubiquitous overplay Weezy’s been subjected to - although it has - but due to the sheer balls it takes to recast a silky smooth piece of modern R’n’B into this crunked-up robot chorus. There’s a little of the disorientation of his Hemlock release ‘Air & Lack Thereof’ in its staggering gait, but by the time he introduces a long-awaited human element in the final chorus it’s become obvious that Blake is following a pretty unique trajectory. Just like Ikonika, Untold or tourmates Mount Kimbie, once again a producer initially lumped in with the dubstep crowd is proving to be something quite different, and quite original.