Less is more? Depends. At least in case of the promo text for this tribute album less would certainly be less confusing. But given the sheer amount of names involved, the release being offered in different versions, and since Pelagic Records can’t just assume that everybody’s already familiar with the whole body of work of the artist being celebrated here, there’s probably no way around smashing us with dry facts, which are ultimately completely irrelevant for the pure enjoyment of the music at hand.
But alas, it’s too late to bail out of my review duty now, so let me try to keep the necessary basics as short as possible: Lustmord aka solo artist Brian Williams is an industrial / dark ambient pioneer creating atmospheric soundscapes since the early 1980s. In 2008 he released [O T H E R], his only album which featured guitars, contributed by none other than Aaron Turner (Isis), King Buzzo (Melvins) and Adam Jones (Tool). Shortly after he also put out not one, but two remix albums of [O T H E R], called Beyond and The Dark Places Of The Earth.
The material of these three albums is the foundation of this new tribute double album [The Others].
I can’t really tell whether all the tracks on the compilation are actually covered or if some just use samples of the originals as backing tracks, on which then something new is built. That question is for greater Lustmord experts than me - or the musicians involved themselves - to answer. And to be honest it certainly is less relevant than the pure result, which ultimately doesn’t require any deep prior Lustmord fandom and knowledge.
The premise of [The Others] was clearly not to copy the original, but to transfer the music into the distinct worlds of each artist. There are still some takes which stay close to the ambient core of Lustmord, but others add so many divergent layers of instrumentation and vocals - at times even with lyrics - that ultimately this feels like a multi-genre compilation with mostly very typical representations of the participating artists’ styles, held together by a shared sombre nocturnal mood or at least undertone. This also means that the first indication whether this album might me worthwhile for you, clearly lies within the line-up of artists. If you dig any of the bands here, you will probably also enjoy their take on Lustmord.
And what a line-up this is! Naturally this welcome gift for Lustmord joining the roster of Pelagic Records includes several names from the label, like The Ocean (obviously), Mono or Årabrot, but also some big names from the outside world, like Enslaved, Ihsahn or Neurosis’ Steve von Till. Since no one approached this task with a lackluster attitude, it’s very likely that your most beloved artists will also have delivered your favorite tracks on [The Others].
With Spotlights (crushing guitar noise), Crown (catchy industrial metal) and Jonas Renkse (disturbing electronics) there are only three artists I personally haven’t been aware of beforehand at all, while hackedepiciotto is a new project of Einstürzende Neubauten’s Alexander Hacke. Especially, the string arrangements make their piece “Trinity Past” one of the most intriguing moments of the double album.
Speaking of strings: Among my favorites is also cellist Jo Quail’s experimental neo-classical take on “Prime”, which further proves her being a unique creative force in today’s musical landscape. Unsurprisingly, genre legends Bohren & der Club of Gore turn “Plateau” into a gloomy and misty doomjazz masterclass and there couldn’t be a better wake-up call after Jay Jayle’s American-songwriter-rendition of “Er Eb Es” than the excellently punishing brutality of Godflesh’s “Ashen”.
Ulver have done greater drone and ambient works than their specific contribution here in the past, yet that doesn’t mean “Godeater” isn’t still magnificient. Mono turn “Er Eb Os” into one of their ultra-dynamic, endlessly growing mighty build-ups, which rightfully places them in their own almost exclusive post rock league, while singer/electronic composer Zola Jesus doesn’t aim for any of the pop appeal she’s capable of creating and fully embraces her eerie side on yet another version of “Prime”. And given that Karin Park, the bride half of Årabrot, already has released a collaborative album with Lustmord himself before, it’s only fitting that “The Last Days (See The Light)”, which could easily be part of their own 2021 masterpiece Norwegian Gothic, closes the compilation.
Even if you don’t sift out the maybe two or three tracks which might not reach their full potential in your ears, this remains a remarkably strong collection and work of art in its own right. Considering the sometimes patience-challenging nature of the original’s genre, it also does a surprisingly successful job of keeping you invested during the complete, quite hefty 130 minutes running time.
While the tribute is available as a standalone release, the box set editions of [The Others] also include the three beforementioned original Lustmord albums, which may be a little much for the casual fan or newbie. While [O T H E R] on its own as a bonus would be a no-brainer, those two remix works, which I admittedly can hardly distinguish from each other yet, are clearly fodder for hardcore Lustmordians. For those, the 5CD or 9LP large-scale investments may of course very well be a new holy grail.