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Isis - "In the Fishtank 14: Isis + Aereogramme" (CD)

Isis - "In the Fishtank 14: Isis + Aereogramme" CD cover image

"In the Fishtank 14: Isis + Aereogramme" track listing:

1. Lowtide
2. Delial
3. Stolen

Reviewed by on February 27, 2007

"In the Fishtank 14 is clearly the work of signature artists making a conscious effort to be out of character."

The “In the Fish Tank” series of Konkurrent recordings have yielded a strange amalgam of band pairings. Tortoise and The Ex, Low with The Dirty Three, even Solex jamming with the ten piece Maarten Altena Ensemble. The results of these collaborations have varied, yet the final product has consistently been well received by indie and alternative underground fans. The fourteenth edition of In the Fish Tank pairs metalgaze forefathers Isis, with Weezer by way of Radiohead path finders, Aerogramme.

Both Aerogramme and Isis sacrifice some of their patented call signs in an effort to meet at the common ground both bands share. Isis shelf the carpet bombing kick drums and abrasive riffing, while Aerogramme minimize their gentle/violent dynamic and abandon their usual embrace of the pop song form. What is left is a spacious, delicate experiment in ambient rock soundscaping. In the Fishtank 14 is clearly the work of signature artists making a conscious effort to be out of character.

On album opener “Lowtide,” lonesome vocals wade amongst buoyant bass lines and tolling single note guitars. Subtle wind chime samples fill in a few in a few gaps, but this song is meant to be a sparse, wide-open piece; where new rhythms and melody are introduced gradually. “Delial” is as close to business as usual, as this EP gets. This song could easily find a nook in Isis’s benchmark “Oceanic”. The centerpiece surges with the ponderous, cycling riffs quite typical of Isis and even climaxes with a gutteral and distorted Aaron Turner scream. Teetering between melancholy and cinematic, “Stolen” is a fitting, if drawn out conclusion. Subdued guitars glide from a keening hum to buzzing drone, eventually finding purchase on hollow, echoing drums. The woe stricken croon of Aereogramme's Craig B adds a touch of human despair to an already sad sounding mood piece. Generously spaced hand claps and muffled kick drums eventually lead to a quavering music box melody that concludes both the song and the EP.

Highs: Fans of both bands will enjoy this fitting collaboration of innovators within their genres.

Lows: Noone in their right mind could call this a metal album.

Bottom line: This meeting of the minds is a veritable collage. The seldom bursts of clamor amongst the endless hushed expanses generate a sound not heard since Radiohead's "Kid A".

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)