Portland peace punk/deathrock hybrid Arctic Flowers have amassed an impressive roster of underground and punk musicians to compile their Remix LP, out now on Deranged Records. The 12″ vinyl contains the band’s first 3-song EP followed by four remixes. The digital download of the album supplies an extra five remix tracks that could not fit onto the vinyl (a vinyl purchase comes with a code to download the extra five songs).
So, let’s see what we have here:
The first three songs are from 2010 and the early material showcases a pretty good sampling of Arctic Flowers’ range: the first song, “Technicolor Haze,” has always been one of the more dance floor friendly numbers as it is, and it’s not surprising the bulk of the remixes on this release are in fact remixes of this song. “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” the second track, is another bass guitar-driven gothy punk number. “Neon Tombs” is an all-out thrasher and serves as evidence of members’ history in uptempo hardcore punk.
Singer Alex’s vocals have always reminded me of Pauline Murray’s (of Penetration); in fact, Penetration, along with Rubella Ballet and the Poison Girls, are not a bad point of reference for describing Arctic Flowers’ sound – mostly mid-tempo, but still hard-edged melodic-but-not-necessarily-pretty, dark punk tunes with a lot of crossover appeal into the goth and postpunk crowds. “Our sound is a mix of punk, deathrock, post punk, and goth,” guitarist Stan Wright once told me in a previous interview for CVLT Nation. “Aggressive but at times danceable and melodic.”
The Remix LP furthers expands Arctic Flowers’ crossover appeal into postpunk, goth, and even industrial dance club territory. The assemblage of remixes here from folks in Soft Kill, Toxic Holocaust, Rubella Ballet, Cadaver em Transe, and others range from ultra-dancey (the Sid Truelove of Rubella Ballet remix of “Technicolor Haze”), to uber-gothy (the Soft Kill remix), to 80s dance (the Alex Cuervo of Espectrostatic/Hex Dispensers mix) – even to dub (the Cadaver em Transe remix by Pato).
The release, to me, is also a throwback to a type of EP you’d see a lot of in the 1980s and 1990s, when bands would follow up album hits with an EP devoted exclusively to various remixes of a single popular song. Cleopatra even tried its hand at this in the late 1990s when it released a CD-EP of The Damned’s Testify which featured remixes from industrial rock band Razed in Black, gothic rock act Nosferatu, and the UK Subs. Of course, “Testify” was off the mostly forgettable 90s “Damned” LP Not of this Earth (aka I’m Alright Jack and the Beanstalk); the remixes were still pretty interesting. It was neat to see what side of the Damned each band chose to tease out by remixing a few of the same songs – some made gothy remixes, some turned the Damned into an industrial band, and the UK Subs remix stripped the Damned back to their punk roots.
This Arctic Flowers LP is the same way, but it’s actually even more fun. A few of the takes on “Technicolor Haze” – especially the Sid Truelove/”Dayglo” and Alex Cuervo remixes – seem ready made for the club floor. The Gold Zippers’ “Purple Clouds” remix is a deeply atmospheric gothic meditation. The Soft Kill remix at the end is a really doomy, almost Killing Joke-ish dirge that not unsurprisingly sounds a bit like an Arctic Flowers/Blessure Grave collaboration! A fun and interesting experiment the Flowers have here, an LP featuring punk, industrial, and gothic versions of their songs.
“Remix” comes out on March 25th on Deranged Records.