Aaron Turner Revisits Isis’ Entire Catalog - Idol Threat: Warning Shots at the Mainstream


Monday, June 07, 2010

Aaron Turner Revisits Isis’ Entire Catalog

[Photo by Robin Laananen]

So Aaron Turner of the soon to be defunct band Isis recently gave an exclusive overview of the band’s entire catalogue to Self-Titled Mag. The review is exhaustive but not particularly exciting, but he did include details for future projects and Isis’ last DVD and vinyl releases. I’ve included excerpts/highlights of his overview and the full details for his post-Isis endeavors. You can find a link to the full article at the end:

On the “Mosquito Control” EP (1998): “I think this record took about three or four days to record and cost around $600. Too bad we were never able to make a record this cheaply again. The first mix was pretty bad… I’d shudder to hear the original again I’m sure.”

On “The Red Sea” EP (1999): “I think I was trying to force a level of technicality in some of the guitar parts… which ended up detracting from the overall power…it’s one of the darkest things we ever recorded in terms of atmosphere, production and composition.”

On the “Sawblade” EP (1999): "The CD version was a literal saw blade with a CD screwed onto it, which we were prohibited from selling at more than a couple shows. Fortunately no one was ever injured by one of these as far as I know.”

On “Celestial” (2000): “I would say this album definitely displayed a more fully realized version of what we eventually became…it is an odd-sounding album in certain ways, I love it for that very reason—I still can’t think of another recording I’ve heard that sounds similar really….”

On the “SGNL>05” EP (2001): “While the material from both releases [Celestial & this EP] fits together as a set, we decided doing a double CD as our first album was a bit ambitious and perhaps too much for people to swallow all at once…I consider it to be as strong as the other things we were doing at the time for sure…”

On “Oceanic” (2002): “The cohesion of the songs as a set was also really important for us, and while that had been a goal with Celestial—as it was with future albums—I still feel like this may have been our greatest success in that sense.”

On the “Oceanic: Remixes & Reinterpretations” EPs (2004): “We thought we’d reach out to a bunch of different people whose music we enjoyed, imagining that only about half or less of them would respond. In the end, though, all but two parties got back to us.”

On Panopticon (2004): “This was the last record we’d record to actual analog tape and when we returned to the studio some time later to retrieve the master reels, about half of them had mysteriously disappeared. I’m still kind of pissed off about that…”

On “We Reach: The Music of The Melvins (2005): “This (a cover of “Boris,” recorded alongside Agoraphobic Nosebleed) was rushed a bit, at least in terms of finishing the process, and that may have been mostly our fault.”

On “In the Absence of Truth” (2006): “Looking back on our whole discography, this is the only album I feel a bit disappointed by in regard to the final results.”

On the “In the Fishtank 14” with Aereogramme EP (2006): “I’m surprised in the end at how mellow the whole thing ended up being, but quite like that aspect of it.”

On “Wavering Radiant” (2009): “While I have no idea how I’ll feel about this record years from now, I suspect that I won’t have the emotional attachment to it as I did with Celestial or Oceanic, but will still feel that it was a very accurate depiction of who Isis were collectively at the end, and feel like we definitely stopped with our musical integrity and vision intact.”

Future DVD Releases
There will likely be another DVD like Clearing the Eye (Ipecac, 2006). We’ve amassed a good amount of footage since this was released, including our 10-year anniversary tour and other tours in various parts of the world. We shot one of our last shows in Australia, which we’re hoping to be able to use and I think we may be able to film some of our final shows here in the U.S. on the “farewell” tour we’re currently on. We have more than enough material, I think —it’s just a matter of putting it all together.

The Live Series
As with most bands, there is a lot of low quality shit being swapped on the Internet, so we figured we’d offer people some quality alternatives which we could release ourselves. This allowed us to present recordings and performances we felt good about, and do so in such a a way that it made sense in relation to the rest of the Isis catalog—i.e. well-rounded releases with competently-designed packaging. While we released all of the CD versions of these recordings ourselves, we chose to do the vinyl versions with other labels other than our main home (Ipecac), which gave us the opportunity to work with other labels who had approached us about doing some kind of release. We have a good number of live recordings amassed at this point so I feel fairly certain there will be at least a couple more installments of the Live series before the well runs dry…

What’s Next: There are a bunch of things in the works. The project I’m most active in at the moment in terms of recording and performing live is Mamiffer. Mamiffer, unlike Isis, is not a band in which I have a great deal of creative control—it is essentially the vision of Faith Coloccia, to whom I also happen to be married. While I’m a pliable figure in this musical construct, I am immensely grateful about being involved with this band and very excited about the album which we’re just about to wrap up. Not sure when it will be released, but likely sometime late this year or early 2011. House of Low Culture is my long running ’solo project’, though almost every recording has included contributions from other people. I have two releases in the works with that project—one being a soundtrack for a graphic novel by my friend Tom Neely, the other being a split 12-inch with the aforementioned Mamiffer.

Also in the works is a new EP, and possibly an album, by my project with James Plotkin and Tim Wyskida called Jodis. We released an album last year (Secret House), which was one of my favorite things I’ve ever been a participant in and I’m certainly excited about the continuation of this project. There are talks of live shows for Jodis later this year, but we’ll see what happens. In the more distant future, there are plans for a new Greymachine album (a project masterminded by JK Broadrick, which includes myself and a host of others), a collaborative album with William Fowler Collins, a vinyl reissue of the second Lotus Eaters album, etc. By no longer spending so much of my time on the road and in the studio with Isis, I’m freed up to do a lot of other things in the realm of music and very excited about doing so. My activities as art director and sometime designer for Hydra Head Records, as well as partial owner of Vacation Vinyl in Los Angeles, will continue on as well.

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