Music Reviews

Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: The Owls Are Not What They Seem: David Lynch Tribute Remixes
Format: CD + Download
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
You might recall Zhelezobeton's 'Now It's Dark' the David Lynch Tribute album by 11 Russian ambient/industrial/electronic artists last year. 'The Owls Are Not What They Seem' is a remix of that album, and it's a double album, so maybe Zhelezobeton figured that would make it twice as good. Participants here include: Arcuation, Regular, Uhushuhu, Notum, Wunderblock, Neznamo, Sal Solaris, Mortart, Bionoid, Light Collapse,
Reutoff, Mira Drevo, Riddika, Svetlo111, Alex Schultz, Lokodepo, Majdanek Waltz, Relic Radiation, Zima23, Lunar Abyss, Kshatriy, and Anthesteria, featuring Peter Theremin, on what else but a theremin! Well, he is the great-grandson of Lev Sergeyevich Termen (aka Léon Theremin) so that obviously makes sense. The latter contributes two new tracks - "Green Is Its Color" and "Silencio" in addition to the 23 remixes for a whopping total of 25 tracks. If the first David Lynch tribute album explored the darkest, most sinister side of Lynch's oeuvre, then this one is even farther afield. I don't see it as much of a Lynch tribute as a remix album, and well, those that have followed my
reviews know how I feel about remixes in general. But that sort of applies more to dark dancefloor goth-industrial than it does to this kind of stuff. If you start with abstraction, exponential abstraction isn't going to make much of a difference. Hence, you won't find me saying for example that Arcuation absolutely massacred Skripp's
"Lynch Law," or the Relic Radiation Remix of Wunderblock's "U-Turn to Lost Highway" is a sublime take on the original. (None of that is true by the way.) In fact, I'm not going back and listening to any of those tracks on 'Now It's Dark' to compare because it's too much work and likely won't sound much like the original, so what difference would it really make?

Overall, 'The Owls Are Not What They Seem' seems to have more rhythm to it than 'Now It's Dark' incorporating a more techno-industrial atmosphere where the first one was predominantly dark/ambient/industrial ambient. That's not to say those aspects have been replaced; they've just been remixed with some rhythm in many cases. Some (purists)
who really liked 'Now It's Dark' are likely to be turned off by this, but there may be plenty of others who are really going to enjoy it. I'm kind of on the fence about it as some tracks really work well in remix mode while others others... not so much. Say for example, Alex Schultz's remix of Relic Radiation's "Arrakis Cinnamon" turns it into a hypnotic techno-tribal dark space ambient delight. The very next track that follows, Lokodepo's remix of Povarovo's "Prelost" is just a techno headache screamin' for some heavy-duty pain relievers to me. As with any compilation, and especially one this large, there are tracks you're going to really like, and ones that will leave you cold, even for Lynch fans. One thing though that I think of as a missed opportunity was for one of these remixers to try a quasi-Angelo Badalamenti take on at least one of these tracks. Badalamenti's noir jazz and somber orchestral work was a vital component of the vast majority of Lynch's filmography. Maybe it's out of their comfort zone, but I don't think it would have been unappreciated here. Be that as it may, Lynch fans are still going to eat this up as they do with nearly everything with his name attached to it.
The first one sold out, and this one, limited to 300 copies, likely will too. For the latecomers there's always the digital album, but you won't get the cool owl-oriented artwork by Barrett Biggers.

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