Isis – Oceanic Remixes / Reinterpretations

Oceanic Remixes / Reinterpretations

Ahhhhh yes, the remix record. I’ve seen so many of these things come and go in my time as a record collecting nerd. I think the remix record is one of those bizzare additions to an artists’ catalog that seems like an appropriate purchase only for diehard fans in most cases. Most of the time, the remix record can be a chance to hear one or two really cool interpretations of a band’s songs accompanied by many lackluster attempts to make something more interesting than the original composition. One need only take a look at The Locust’s Well I’ll Be a Monkey’s Uncle or the recent Bjork Army of Me remix record to see just how bad these projects can get. At least Isis’ Oceanic Remixes/Reinterpretations has more than just one song being remixed over and over and over again.

Hydra Head originally released this material as a series of four extremely limited LPs, but now you can own it all on one convenient disc. At least Oceanic was chosen to be the target of all the remixing. This record was, in the opinion of many critics (myself included), the single best record released so far by the band. While some of the remixes on this collection showcase and even improve upon the energy contained in the originals, others fall completely far from the mark. One of the main problems I have with this collection is that it is presented as a two-disc set. I understand that, in order to contain all of the tracks from the four LP set, it probably had to be this way, but in all earnesty it could have been one disc. Cutting out the crap would have been a difficult decision for the Hydra Head crew or the members of the band, as I’m sure that there is a special relationship between them and some of the individuals/groups doing the remixing. For example, Mike Patton contributes one of the weakest remixes here, yet he is responsible for releasing the last two Isis records on his Ipecac label.

The first disc begins with what is one of the best efforts put forth on the disc, Fennesz’ remix of “Weight.” Christian Fennesz turns this Isis track into a sine wave signal fluctuating and crackling with the same intensity often found in his own works. Also contained on disc one are Tim Hecker’s first interpretation of “Carry” and James Plotkin of Atomsmasher/Phantomsmasher fame’s rendition of “The Other.” Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your particular preference for the man himself), Mike Patton ends this disc with a goofy take on “Maritime” with himself singing over the top of a disjointed version of the Isis track.

Disc two is mostly terrible. Venetian Snares’ take on “The Beginning and the End” (one of my personal favorite Isis songs) turns the lock-groove chugging and thrash of the original into a cheesy drum-and-bass techno workout. DJ Speedranch’s remix of “Carry” on this disc is also probably the worst track from the whole project. Disc two’s redeeming quality is ultimately the coup de grace of the last track: Justin K. Broadrick from Godflesh and Jesu turning “Hym” into a much more powerful effort than the original even. Broadrick stretches the song so thin, and yet the muscle retained is the absolute essential essence that pushes the song over the edge. After listening to this track, I urge you to go out and pick up the Pelican March into the Sea single just to get his remix of “Angel Tears” from that band’s Australasia LP.

Oceanic Remixes/Reinterpretations is one of those records that is about 50% awesome and 50% suck. I wish I could give you some kind of definite answer here, but you really need to listen to it to decide whether the good outweighs the bad. I didn’t pay for this thing, so to me, the good tracks are well enough to warrant keeping it. I don’t know if I’d shell out the cash to hear maybe four or five cool remixes of these Isis songs, but if you are a huge Isis fan then I’d say you already bought it.