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Oceanic: Remixes / Reinterpretations

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Album Review

Isis plays metal. But it's no stretch to consider the group alongside devotees to drone, sludge, noise, or blip — all those artistic sublevels spill out on the papery fringe, anyway. And that's why Oceanic: Remixes/Reinterpretations is such a powerful project. The collaborators here are continuing Oceanic's restless evolutionary cycle, so their results are free to be loud, soft, or somewhere in the foggy between. Of the 13 tracks featured on this two-disc set, 12 originally appeared on a series of 12" EPs; disc two's second version of Tim Hecker's "Carry" interpretation is exclusive. Hecker's "Carry [First Version]" elongates the seesaw notes in Isis' original, stretching them with ropes of warping electric guitar and letting a soft ambient texture sift in toward the end. Christian Fennesz's work with "Weight" has an equally powerful gravity — somewhere near its halfway mark he suspends the track in a glitchy loop that's as captivating as it is minimal. There are two takes on "Maritime." Mike Patton's involves various tricks from his bag of scary vocal whimsy, like an insane child prodigy taking drugs for fun, and Teledubgnosis turns in a lengthy version informed with splashes and echoes of their experimental dub, as well as washes and whispers — like a city outside the window — that approach ambient. After the headiness of Remixes/Reinterpretations' first disc, it's cool to hear disc two launch with the splotchy, raw guitar that kicked off Isis' "Beginning and the End." That said, Venetian Snares (aka Aaron Funk) runs that consistent guitar through the fringe techno paces, with intermittent percussion twitters and sudden pockets of space to showcase the original's vocal. Other highlights: Dälek's Oktopus thickens "False Light"'s bottom end and adds Tron sound effects, but keeps Aaron Turner's roar; noisy New Yorkers Destructo Swarmbots tackle "From: Sinking, To: Drowning" and re-imagine it as something recorded inside a hissing ventilation shaft; and J.K. Broadrick's meandering version of "Hym" connects Isis and Oceanic: Remixes/Reinterpretations to the various reconsiderations of Godflesh's catalog that have appeared over the years.

Biography

Formed: 1997 in Boston, MA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although rooted heavy metal and the punk/hardcore aesthetic, Isis' music relies just as heavily on ambience, atmosphere, and tone as it does complexity and aggression. Not so much a band per se as a musical collective, the members of the Boston-based quintet layer their compositions with feedback, power chords, quiet/loud dynamics, and vocals that are sometimes shouted, frequently screamed, and occasionally sung. The band was formed by Hydra Head Records owner Aaron Turner, who was hoping to combine...
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Oceanic: Remixes / Reinterpretations, Isis
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