Aereogramme – In the Fishtank, Vol. 14

In the Fishtank, Vol. 14

Fourteen volumes into Konkurrent’s In the Fishtank series, one thing remains unchanged. The results of getting two artists/bands into the studio for two days and seeing what happens is rarely outstanding, just from personal experience. One of the first reviews I wrote for DOA was the Black Heart Procession and Solbakken team-up on the series’ 11th volume. While there were some interesting moments for Black Heart fans on there, for the most part it was an exercise in the soporific and mundane.

On this most recent addition to the series, Konkurrent has dropped post-metal juggernaut Isis into the fishtank with Scottish post-rockers Aereogramme. While one would certainly expect some bone-crushingly heavy epiphanies, that assumption is almost entirely wrong. Before listening to the record, the inside sleeve slyly instructs listeners that despite both groups’ track records trafficking in the unusually loud and abrasive, this collaboration is going to be a more refined affair.

The record is short at just over 20 minutes, containing only three tracks. Initially, the tracklist on the back of the case led me to believe that we were going to get three lumbering 10- to 15-minute dirges a la Oceanic and Panopticon. While the first and third both barely come close to 10 minutes, the second track (the only heavy one here) is a mere three and a half minutes. Despite this brevity, if the other songs were as stunning as the first one, “Low Tide,” it would have been well worth the effort.

At the beginning of “Low Tide,” the listener is greeted with a skeletal, lock-groove, throbbing bassline and palm-muted guitar. Recalling the subtler moments found on Isis’ Panopticon, the track becomes something more when Aereogramme vocalist Craig B. steps up to the mic for some Sigur Rós-esque crooning. The second track, “Delial,” is far more typical of what you’d expect from the pairing of these groups. Churning, heavy, repetitive guitar work and screamed vocals make up the duration of this one. Unfortunately for us it comes off sounding a little too much like some rote emo band or even (ugh…) The Deftones. “Stolen” tries to compensate for this with more winding post-rock, but the glockenspiel at the end of the track comes off sounding a little too similar to the bad parts of Sigur Rós’ Takk… where it gets kinda syrupy.

Regardless of the overall quality of the series, In the Fishtank, Vol. 14 does what it sets out to do. Imagine a pairing of two groups, generally disparate, although the case at hand doesn’t follow form. Mostly just entertaining for fans of Isis, those seeking new Aereogramme stuff may be more enthusiastic about the project. Without the harsh howls of Aaron Turner and despite the obvious triumph of “Low Tide,” this volume of the series falls pretty short. On “Delial” and “Stolen,” Aereogramme has only managed to rob Isis of its glacial power, and that, my friends, makes losers of us all.