Remora – Mecha

Artist: Remora
Title: Mecha
Label: Silber, US
Details: CD/DL. 16 tracks, 59 minutes.

This is a lot different to anything else I’ve heard by Remora. The guitars have largely been jettisoned in favour of early eighties analogue synthesisers. Mecha is a concept album put together by Remora (aka Silber head-honcho Brian John Mitchell) with an accompanying comic. It’s a tale of a dystopian future of robot freedom fighters in the grand DC/Marvel tradition.

Musically, this is deliberately almost simplistic stuff with the Normal, pre-Dare Human League and the non-pop side of OMD the obvious reference points. The tracks with vocals are given a dispassionate deadpan delivery that resembles John Foxx’s most mechanistic performances.

It’s obviously a deliberate move by Remora to make Mecha sound like something that could have been made thirty years ago at the pre-dawn of the synthpop boom. It works for the most part, but there’s a nagging feeling that a number of tracks overdo the two-note, one finger synth patterns and could use a bit more complexity. There are interludes that are more abstract and do help to break up the icy monotony, injecting a little dirt to the otherwise clean boing-boing-boing of the synth melodies. Many of these are the most successful pieces – the industrial metallurgy of closer 049 is particularly good.

I guess Mecha is an attempt to reconnect with the sc-fi tradition of albums such as Travelogue and Reproduction, and as a retro-future exercise it achieves everything it sets out to admirably. In some ways, in 2010 such a project is akin to the “Ethnological Forgeries” committed by Can where they created pseudo-facsimile versions of obscure tribal music or scratchy twenties hot jazz records – i.e. an exercise in musical time travel.


EP: REMORA – Guitar Antihero (Silber 2009)

This 25 minute freebie by Remora aka Brian John Mitchell consists of a single piece recorded live in May 2009. For this performance, four guitars and a bass were amped up and placed around the stage to pick up vibrations from the main guitar / effects / amp set up that Mitchell was using. The result is a background of harsh drone and feedback, with frequencies sometimes hitting seriously uncomfortable squeal. Rather than thrash about on his instrument, Mitchell plays it softly, almost absent-mindedly, teasing small plucked melodies and gentle strums out of it, and letting the power of electricity and vibration do the rest. The result is something that is both fiercely loud, but also quite serene. Obviously, the recording struggles to reproduce the effect that this piece had live, especially if played at a sane volume. Even so, it’s an interesting work, and certainly makes me want to experience Remora live. Barry Esson, get on the case for Instal 10!

1. Guitar Antihero 25:41