Music Reviews

Artist: Oiseaux-Tempête (@)
Title: Re-Works
Format: 12"
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Oiseaux-Tempête's 2013 debut album weaved through a number of different styles a humourless thread of disenchantment in the face of contemporary European political and economic problems. For angst and despair, po-faced post-rock or stoner rock with titles to match ('Opening Theme (Ablaze in the Distance)', 'Ouroboros'). For wistfulness or otherwise more contemplative moods, airy ambient arrangements and field recordings ('Sophia's Shadow', 'Outro (for the following)'). In-between these, some full-on swelling, droning grit for good measure ('L'île'). For all its sincerity, dramatic prowess and genuine musical strength and appeal, the problem with post-rock is its histrionic wilt, its gesturing seeming overstated after a certain amount of exposure. It has a tendency to sameness that quickly loses appeal, so when it only fringes compositions rather than absorbing them altogether, the results are usually considerably more interesting - 'Sophia's Shadow' and 'L'île' are good examples of this.

With the above in mind, this remix collection from Oiseaux-Tempête's post-rock polemic introduces an electronic edge to most of the pieces. The outcome is a less consistent but, to this listener, rather more gratifying listening experience.
Leopard of Honour's remix of 'Nuage Noir' opens the record. The sparse, predictable slow-core plodder becomes a Burial-esque electro shuffler, with looped motifs, rounded subterranean bass and woodblock strikes lingering beneath the main rhythms. It's very satisfying to hear the song's elements arranged this way and this well. It's worth noting that this is one of the more striking transformations; for the most part, the original pieces are given atmospheric filter treatment, usually with rhythms removed or obscured - or, in the case of the Scanner and Colin Johnco remixes, added. This relatively limited formulation is possibly out of respect to the spirit of the original album, centred as it is around protest and political discontent.
However, not straying too far from the source material has its troubles. Unfortunately, Dag Rosenqvist's reworking of on 'Opening Theme (Ablaze in the Distance)' feels more like a discarded alternate take than a remix, picking a single isosceles crescendo and losing some interesting dynamics as a result. Machinefabriek's reinterpretation of 'Kyrie Eleison', while a total conversion of sorts (rather tempting the term 'post(-processed)-rock'), nonetheless differs too subtly to feel like much more than an original outtake.

Among more appealing contributions, Wixtes' remix of 'Buy Gold (Beat Song)' discards the titular thudding beat, resulting in a grainy cloud of sombre guitar work gusting around sampled speech. Similarly, Saåad crop but engorge 'La Traversée' into a solid dark ambient/drone piece. Scanner introduces as a textural focus a varied, stuttering rhythm range to 'Calling John Carcone' and manages pretty well to retain beneath it the tempestuous post-rock anguish of the original. 'Nuage Noir' also features a second time, with Greek thereminist May Roosevelt at the helm. Besides cropping the length, she leaves the song largely intact, instead adding a rich, effective harmonised theremin accompaniment.

Like most compilations and particularly remix compilations, it's a mixed bag. But it is impressive how earnestly the present personnel endeavour to preserve the themes and tone of their source material. When it works, it does so very well.

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