The Free Design

The Now Sound Redesigned, a remix tribute to the Sixties soft-psych group the Free Design, is an opportunity lost. The soft vocal harmonies would seem a lush foil for hip-hop's hard beats and streetwise rhymes, but the album fails to properly negotiate the juxtaposition. Don't get me wrong; there are several amazing tracks here, like the CTI smooth jazz beats on Peanut Butter Wolf's version of "Umbrellas" and the maudlin solemnity of Kid Koala and Dynomite D's take on "An Elegy." Unfortunately anyone familiar with the Free Design's original versions will sorely miss the group's sublime harmonizing. With the exception of Caribou's remake of "Dorian Benediction" and Stereolab & the High Llamas' "Harve Daley Hix," the artists on Redesigned squander a great opportunity to dig into the Free Design's angelic aura.