Written By: Filip Teovanovic
Originality: (3 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (3 / 5) Lyrics: (4 / 5) Production: (2 / 5) Average: (3 / 5)
After glorified album Gargoyle, Mark Lanegan decided to release an EP in the same year. It is a compilation of remixes titled Still Life With Roses – Gargoyle Remixes. Collaboration with his dearest producers is not the new thing for him, since Phantom Radio also had its appendix in the form of remixes.
As electronic music was omnipresent on Gargoyle, this EP seems like a logical extension. It can be perceived as extraction of electronic elements from the album and insisting solely on them. The question is whether that was successful. Was it even necessary? Anyhow, old lovers of Lanegan’s sound will perceive it as something that could be played, but it’s not like it needs to be added to the music library. Those who want to investigate Lanegan’s work should definitely not start with this release, since it’s not representative of his work. Still Life With Roses is pumped up electronic and disco music that can often make your brain hurt, because Lanegan’s vocal is in constant conflict with the sound.
The list of collaborators includes Adrian Sherwood, Not Waving, Pue Corner Audio, Andrew Weatherall and Blood Music. “Nocturne” in Adrian Sherwood’s remix is the most accomplished realization on the EP. Electronic soundscape and beats go along with Lanegan’s sound that trembles like an echo, leaving the listener with eerie feeling and ambiguous impression. As original “Nocturne” was woven in electronic, this remix makes total sense with its emphasis on darkness. Besides “Nocturne”, “Old Swan (Pye Corner Audio Remix)” is also a success with its foggy, subtle sound.
All the other songs are completely deconstructed originals. “Blue Blue Sea (Not Waving)” transforms original into synth-beat driven aggression. It lacks movie-like moment of “Nocturne” to be effective. Without it, it comes off as synthetic and overproduced, which appears to be the case with the rest of the album, especially with two remixes of “Beehive”. Because they follow each other, first remix and then Andrew Weatherall’s dub, the impression is even more negative. Almost twenty minutes of electronic saturation resulted in hardly listenable versions of “Beehive”. The remix version is a bit more tolerable because the vocal softens the intrusiveness of the sound, while the dub version is more oriented towards atmospheric beats with minimal vocal interventions.
Closing number “Death Head’s Tattoo (Blood Music Falling Percussion Dub) seems confusing with plethora of syncopes and other perplexing effects. So, Still Life With Roses would be a good name for Mark Lanegan’s album, but definitely not for this EP. There are no roses nor stillness here.