Posted Sep 4th, 2012 (9:00 am) by Emmett Eldred
Hundred Waters

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Los Angeles producer Jennifer Lee (a.k.a. Tokimonsta) sports a background in classical piano, though her real love is for the for the dark underbelly of the music world. That musical know-how came in handy, as it turns out, as she tackled "Thistle" by Gainesville, Florida romantics Hundred Waters.

Tokimonsta's remix of "Thistle" is brave to say the least, simply because the song is song is so explorative and avant-garde. Her challenge: take "Thistle," which boasts a mere 17 lines of lyrics over 4 and a half minutes, and turn it into a work which truly jams in a more traditional sense (yet still holds all the quirks and noteworthy features of the original). It's a hard, dare we say nearly impossible, feat that very few producers could do. Tokimonsta doesn't just pull off the impossible, she kills it.

The song is weird, there's no helping that. After all, the style lends itself to being weird, so making it anything but would be a great offense by Tokimonsta. Instead, she harnesses all that weirdness and combines it with her clearly expansive musical knowledge to produce something that is truly magical, in that it connects with an electronic savvy audience while still retaining the poetic romanticism and purpose of Hundred Waters' original version.

Lee accomplishes this by making the song much harder and metallic, adding a great and intentional sharpness to the emotional "thistles" found throughout the song. She turns a piano motif into hardline mono-synth lead that blends into the background and becomes part of the rhythmic texture. She lowers pained, strained, wispy vocals by an octave, giving the song the impression of an African spiritual, which it very well could be, considering its tortured meaning and nearly atonal aversion to conventional music theory structures. Then, she seamlessly mimics a falsetto to transition to the original octave. She adds elements to "Thistle" and takes others away at her enlightened discretion.

All in all, Tokimonsta captures the pure essence of poetry that is inherent in "Thistle," yet transforms the song into an entirely different genre. All in all, the song will never be greatly loved by Tokimonsta's audience because it is so strange and so sophisticated beyond today's music. Still, what she has accomplished here cannot be overstated.

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