Friday, August 12, 2011

Isis - SGNL>05 EP (2001)

SGNL>05 is a follow-up to 2000's Celestial, an album that probably didn't actually need a follow-up. Apparently, SGNLs 1-4 simply weren't enough, and we needed to know all about SGNL>05. I'm being snarky in my derision of some of the song names here, of course, but I really never felt as if Celestial needed a second part. In fact, the original album is so repetitive, I feel as if taking songs away would be the correct approach.

This EP really only consists of four songs. The first track is another ambient interlude akin to the ones on Celestial, except that this one is a full two minutes longer than the longest SGNL on Celestial. The first real track is "Divine Mother (The Tower Crumbles)," which delivers some frantic chugging interspersed with silence and some slower riffs about halfway through. In fact, after the silence at the halfway point, the point improves substantially. The riff becomes a bit more dynamic and a lone guitar slowly gives way to a more sonically impressive bit of chugging. Despite a decent second half, this track is nothing special and isn't as good as the Celestial opener.

"Beneath Below" is a short, largely electronic instrumental track. It is slow but syncopated and sounds a bit like the type of thing I imagine gets rejected for Silent Hill soundtracks. It does, however, provide a decent segue in to "Constructing Towers," which picks up the slow, electronic feel and eventually transforms it with a slow guitar riff, which (of course) becomes a chugging guitar riff. This track remains relatively the same throughout. They add a bend to one of the notes later on, and they also add some spacey effects, but it's still the same riff throughout. I just pulled the track up on my Zune and fast forwarded; it sounded virtually identical to what came before it despite jumping forward 30-40 seconds each time.

The final song is "Celestial (Signal Fills the Void)," which is a reinterpretation or reimagining of "Celestial (The Tower)" from the first album. I hesitate to refer to it as a remix, because almost everything is changed. That said, I do dig this song. The electronic elements seem well balanced with the background vocals and the plodding guitar work, and it all seems to work on this song. The song fades out much as it faded in, with a very minimalistic approach.

Super fans of Isis in general or Celestial specifically will probably want to grab this album, but I can't much recommend it to anyone else. It's not that it's bad, it's just that there's so much better out there, even within Isis's catalog.

Verdict: Indifference [6/10]

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