Isis have seemingly created a genre all to themselves—lush instrumental soundscapes punctuated by bellowing vocals. But, to try and rigidly define their textural sound by any amalgam or arrangement of letters and words can lead to nothing but frustration, so to spare myself and the reader my literary shortcomings, let’s dive into Oceanic: Remixes/ Reinterpretations.
Previously only available on vinyl (shy a few remixes), Oceanic:Remixes/Reinterpretations, as one might expect, is comprised of revisions of Isis’ majestic Oceanic, available on Ipecac Recordings. Names from Mike Patton to Justin K. Broadrick to Teledubgnosis to Fennesz appear on this double disc of remixes— each production mastermind presenting their own take on parts of the Oceanic record.
Ayal Naor, a contributing musician to the original recording, produced “False Light (Carry Edit),” a highlight of the album which mixes the second and third tracks of Oceanic seamlessly. Several remixes of “Carry” are present, with various surgical treatment of the original song by cutting riffs to produce staccato guitar work or extending grand breakdowns. The formless female vocals provided by Maria Christopher on several tracks of Oceanic are brought up in several of the remixes and provide an excellent counterpoint to Aaron Turner’s howling screams. Mike Patton warps “Maritime” into, well, a Mike Patton recording— by adding vocals, of course, over the original mix. Somehow, it works.
With two discs worth of remix material, this review could go on for pages— but the most interesting thing about Oceanic: Remixes/Reinterpretations is the faithfulness to the original work. Whereas many remix albums turn songs I love into terribly mindless dance mixes, this collection of redesigned work respects the overall spirit and feel of Oceanic, moving into each song with care and deliberate attention, which makes Oceanic: Remixes/Reinterpretations just as pleasing, stimulating and soothing to listen to as its parent recording.
Highly recommended for Isis fans. Everyone else should buy Oceanic first, then buy this.