2009 Remix track for Melvins: Chicken Switch
Also included: Eye Yamatsuka, Christoph Heemann, V/VM, Matmos, Lee Renaldo, Merzbow, David Scott Stone, Panacea, Sunroof!, Kawabata Makoto, Farmersmanual, Void Manes, RLW, $peedranch
Released by Ipecac, Los Angeles
Ah, the mighty Melvins, we’ve been into ‘em for longer than we care to admit (put it this way, some of you reading this weren’t yet born when we were first freaking out over the absurd heaviness of Ozma). They can do no wrong, or when they do “wrong” it’s ‘cause they meant to (i.e. Prick). Fans know that the Melvins don’t need any help from anybody when it comes to making fucked up sounds. Pretty much every album of theirs has got at least totally WTF? track on it. They even have a few ENTIRE albums that confusionally consist of nothing but, such as the aforementioned Prick. So, imagine if the Melvins DID get some help, or rather, don’t imagine, listen to this new all-remix album and hear for yourself! That’s right, what could be cooler than the Melvins? How ‘bout the Melvins screwed and chopped (if only! they should have gotten Swishahouse involved) by a bunch of other extreme/avant music mavens? Check it out: Eye Yamatsuka, Christoph Heemann, V/VM, John Duncan, Matmos, Lee Ranaldo, Merzbow, David Scott Stone, Panacea, Sunroof!, Kawabata Makoto, farmersmanual, Void Manes, RLW, and $peedranch! Dunno who Void Manes is (sounds black metal) but the rest of ‘em are well known experimental/electronic/noise artists you’re probably all familiar with. Not sure if the Melvins themselves picked ‘em, or Ipecac did, but it’s an impressive roster, just the folks to remix the Melvins catalog in gonzo, Plunderphonics fashion. No, these aren’t “normal” remixes. Rather than having just a single song to play with, the participants were apparently asked to take a whole Melvins album and turn it into their “own” track. Maybe you’re wondering, is this noisy? Yes. Starts off that way certainly with Eye from the Boredoms’ “Washmachine Sk8tronics”. Endlessly chugging guitar riffage, gobs of distortion and shrill garbled electronics. Good grief, by the time you get to the end, which brings in the sounds of skateboards, it’s hard to imagine who among the other remixers could top this, or how. Cleverly, the next track takes a totally different tack, Christoph Heemann’s quietly droning “Emperor Twaddle Remix” being an abstract and (mostly) lovely respite from the noisy shenanigans that start up again on the very next cut, V/VM’s “She Chokes Her Dying Breath & Does It In My Face”, which proves that anything current noiseniks like Wolf Eyes and Shit & Shine ever did, the Melvins did it first, provided you listen to ‘em with the assistance of V/VM. This sounds more like Merzbow than the latter track remixed by Merzbow himself, whose contribution to this disc is equally distortodelic but perhaps more rhythmic. That brings us to track 4, the aforementioned John Duncan mix, which for the first time on this disc sounds like could actually be something from an actual Melvins album. With a heavy percussive onslaught and droning guitar, it’s like an extended intro to a real Melvins song, but then when you think the rock is gonna kick in, instead you get low-end heartbeat pulsations and high-end electronic sizzle.
Again, whomever programmed this disc did a fine job, ‘cause that segues quite nicely into the clicks and cuts techno makeover that the Matmos boys do for the Melvins on “Linkshander”. Heck we all might like techno better if it ALWAYS had the ominous doom-drone thing going on in the background, and spacey sci-fi effects, that this track does. Lee Ranaldo’s “Eggnog Trilogy” starts off with the first easily recognizable Melvins material on here so far, including even snippets of Buzz’s vocals. This takes over from Duncan’s cut as the track that sounds the most like it could be the Melvins themselves, but at the same time clearly isn’t entirely. And, gosh, there’s plenty more highlights, we’ll not describe them all, except to say that Panacea’s “electroclash” remix indeed sounds like that (rad!), and Sunroof! succeed in transmuting the Melvins into something that sounds more like their own hazy shining dronemusick, lovely. Most of the remixers delve into the realm of digital glitch and out-and-out noise, with a small minority opting instead for calm and quiet. Tape speed manipulation, pitch shifting, extreme distortion, sudden edits, that’s mostly the modus operandi here and the Melvins can take it, somehow keeping their unique musical persona intact. Though it will be challenging, trainspotting Melvins fanatics can have good fun trying to figure out what songs and/or albums each track is plundering. Lastly, we can’t review this without mentioning that a good friend of ours first heard the John Duncan remix while riding in a Lamborghini [actually a BMW Z8 convertible; was I driving?] speeding through the Italian Alps -with- John Duncan. How cool and/or strange is that? While you might not be listening to this in a luxury sports car, more likely in your own home, we’re sure you’ll get a big kick out of it too, along with all the other remixes… Aquarius Records