The Others [Lustmord Deconstructed] by Lustmord

Release date: April 1, 2022
Label: Pelagic Records

You really have to hand it to Pelagic Records. They’re one of those labels who have always gone the extra mile, either in terms of the lavish special editions of The Ocean’s works which have included fossils, star charts and weighty acrylic art pieces, or for their roster, with a massive Year Of No Light retrospective out and a newly-announced Burst box in the works. It still came as a bit of a surprise, though, that not only were they repressing dark ambient overlord Lustmord’s seminal [ Other ], but it would also be paired with both 2009 remix albums and a tribute/remix 3xLP featuring the kind of line-up that fans of dark, heavy and outré sounds could only dream of. Godflesh? Check. MONO? Check. The Ocean, Ihsahn and Enslaved? You get the drift.

Typically, the issue with such albums is gauging which artists will actually attempt to create something of their own with the source material and which will be happy to merely embellish, but given the calibre of the contributors it’s better to judge the extents to which they shape the songs to their own unique voices. With those from the harsher side of the sonic spectrum, there’s more of an adherence to the originals but with a reflection of their own spirits. Thus, Enslaved retain the pitch-black ambiance of ‘Eon’, but take it on a cosmic side-quest, muted and haunting but with a more expansive tone to Lustmord’s usual claustrophobic takes. Likewise, Ihsahn doesn’t turn ‘Dark Awakening’ into some proggy odyssey, but his use of eerie samples, disembodied cacophonies of voice and stark, throbbing synths results in a hellish fusion of two distinctively dark visions.

Likewise, there are those who are so associated with a sound that they can’t help but let it dominate whatever it’s applied to. MONO do a good job of holding their instincts in check in their shot at ‘Er Eb Os’, but by the time they reach the half-way mark, it’s all glistening guitars that sound like angels in a fury and the ever-escalating pound of wood on drumskin, all building up to a suitably magnificent climax. Godflesh don’t even make it halfway with ‘Ashen’. There’s such a graven, dystopian fury to their sound that no matter how much they adhere to Brian Williams’ template, their jarring beats and woozy, haunting guitars immediately take it to their own special hell, one of ruined high-rises and scorched earth and the kinds of things that probably kept Ken Russell awake at night.

The presence of vocals often make for unique reworks, with special note going to Jaye Jayle’s gravelly funeral blues on ‘Er Eb Es’, not a million miles from Nick Cave at his most morose, and to Swiss powerhouse CROWN, infusing ‘Element’ with a mechanical yet coolly sensual voice. Think Nine Inch Nails or Skinny Puppy operating at their melodic peaks and you have an inkling of the heights this song operates at. Despite possessing one of the most distinctive voices in music today, though, it’s Zola Jesus who relies on it the least. Her work is tense and claustrophobic and though she does allow her voice to enter the mix, it just adds another ghostly layer of sound to the ritualistic fever-dream of a composition that she has delivered.

Of course, this is just a snapshot of what this album delivers. There’s also Steve Von Till offering up a slice of frazzled Americana that comes dangerously close to matching Neurosis’ tectonic weight, Bohren und Der Club of Gore finally letting the darkness completely engulf their smoky jazz noir-chic, and the head honchos themselves, The Ocean, whose rendition of ‘Primal [The State Of Being]’ might rank amongst their most ambitious works. It’s a slow build taken to its logical extreme, almost agonising in how that simple guitarline picks up steam until it hits a triumphant peak that it refuses to climb down from.

Is this a perfect remix album? Honestly, it might be. It captures the dark defiance, the nourishment of negative space, that Lustmord has always brought to the table yet it offers up something from a broad spectrum of innovators that are all able to hold their own. These are less 16 remixes than they are 16 separate collaborations between like minds, and every one is magnificent in its own right.

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