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|Remora - Scraps
MP3 Rarities Collection 2016 | Silber 233
98 tracks, 398 minutes
Listen on Bandcamp
~ Floorshime Zipper Boots
Scraps & Scrapes collects compilation appearances, alternate mixes, & demos from Remora’s first twenty years. 98 tracks & 6.5 hours that haven’t appeared on Remora’s twelve albums & thirteen EPs, but document the progression & consistency of Remora’s sound over two decades with new equipment & age only mildly impacting the weird post-apocalyptic musical vision – mixing up ambient drone, post punk, & americana into whatever hybrid you want to call it.
: Press Release
For regular readers of this blog, North Carolina indie label, Sibler Records, is a familiar entity. So to would be the experimental band Remora, led by Silber founder and guru Brian John Mitchel. The album is a massive 98 tracks, 6.5 hours of music, that document 20 years of creative exploration and that have not appeared on any of the band's 12 albums or 13 Eps. What you get is some of the finest ambient, drone and melodic pieces that one could ask for. An absolutely majestic, must have album.
~ Floorshime Zipper Boots
When Silber Records, who often send EP’s that are only five minutes long in total, offer you an over-six-hours, 98-track compilation of leftovers and studio floor scrapings, from an artist whose twelve previous albums you’re not familiar with, do you dip into it and treat it like a sampler? Or do you listen to the whole collection in a single sitting and see if it can stand in its own right as a listening experience? I tried the latter, and six and a half hours later, have mixed but mostly positive feelings about it.
Remora is Brian John Mitchell’s solo project, blending guitar drones, feedback, effects, soundscapes and heavy atmospheric processing into an output that’s got a slightly familiar avantgarde feel to it. Sonically it’s not a revelation. Sometimes the slowly-evolving industrial textures are like a comforting yet dissonant bath, an opportunity to take a relaxing holiday mostly far away from structure or rhythm.
The decision to include what feels like every single leftover that could be found on tape or disc feels like an almost arrogant refusal to assess each piece’s merits, resulting in a mixed bag. Pieces like “We’ve Only Just Begun” and the excellent “Framb” are fully realised post-punk atmospheres, flirting on the outskirts of white noise in a slightly Resonance Association-like manner, easily deserving of expansion in their own right. “Slow Ghost” is a hypnotic mood that could have been taken on its own hour-long evolution.
Other tracks however are failed dead-end experiments that understandably didn’t earn their place in any of the previous ‘proper’ albums. Tracks like “Nemo” are harmless noodling, while tracks like “MB1” are cathartic messing-about-after-a-bad-day-at-the-office pieces- we’ve all done that and enjoyed slapping discordant sounds and painful distortion as a way of relieving tension, but most of us would rather delete the results than share them. Vocal snippets like the rather daft “Hangin’ Tough” (the weirdest New Kids On The Block cover you will ever hear- seriously) and a liberal smattering of fairly awful but mercifully short bedroom-style song recordings (among them “For The Love Of Ravens”, “Love Song”, “The Running Man”, and “Hope For Christmas”) frankly make you wish the collection was entirely instrumental.
Towards the end of the collection there are a range of much longer drone pieces, some of which are seemingly live in front of an audience, such as “The Heart That Kills” and “When The Blood Has Turned To Dust”. Four or five of these gathered together could easily have formed a solid hour-long drone album in their own right, and if you can be bothered to playlist them into a workable order, you can build your own tracklist with them. While I might not revisit the whole six-hours-plus collection in a hurry, I’d happy repeat-listen to an hour’s worth of this drone material.
Other oddities include “They Feed At Sunrise”, which feels like an exceptionally long intro to a prog rock concert, and the semi-synthetic Americana tones of “I Need New Pedals For Christmas”. “Headkick” sounds like it’s itching to break into EDM, but never quite starts, and “Dance Anthem 116” is the sound of somebody messing around with synthpop keyboard presets for a few minutes. “Improvised Tinkering” is a rather neat bit of sound design that, again, would have been worthy of a longer independent life.
With a bit of thoughtful curation “Scraps & Scrapes” could have been made into a seriously impressive three- or four-hour package (preferably an instrumental one!). As it is, its formlessness and slightly over-frequent dead ends and very rough-edged vocal ideas leave it feeling a bit underbaked. That being said, at time of writing “Scraps & Scrapes” is a ‘name your price’ offering on Bandcamp, so if you only choose to pay a price equivalent to a regular album, there’s easily enough quality material in here to make it a worthwhile listen.
~ Stuart Bruce, Chain D.L.K.