At their worst, remix albums are a way to get people already invested in a band to invest a little more — be it money or bandwidth — without forcing the band to record any new music. Apart from (maybe) the Health remix LPs, no modern remix album has even come close to being described as anything resembling “essential.”
That said, there’s maybe not a more noble remix LP coming out this year than this deluxe edition of Bear In Heaven’s sophomore album, Beast Rest Forth Mouth, which has a primary goal of reminding us that Bear In Heaven exists and is very good. Released last year on Hometapes, Beast kind of got buried in the shuffle, reaching the pages of many blogs but not breaking through much beyond that. Now that Bear In Heaven is storming America’s concert venues like never before this summer, it’s the perfect time to re-release this thing with something more than a new cover — namely a second disc that features remixes of all the album tracks. However, it’s not like any of the remixes on the second disc here are essential (or beat the originals). But any excuse to get Beast Rest Forth Mouth in its original form into more ears is welcome given that it might have been last year’s most slept-on album (including by us).
There’s hardly a way to describe Bear In Heaven that doesn’t start with volcanic; the Brooklyn band makes massive, slowly building synth-jams that explode with emotional waves of monolithic beauty. From the opening percussion circle of “Beast In Peace” and the clanging “Deafening Love” to the shamanic “Drug a Wheel” and the howling “Dust Cloud,” it’s an album that warrants repeat listens and can demand your devotion through its expansive sound and lead singer Jon Philpot’s oblique lyrical inferences to beasts chasing him.
In its original form, that is. The second disc removes almost all of the subtlety of Bear In Heaven’s music, instead expanding songs into too-long dance-offs (Hundred in the Hands) that often sound like one band just pasted a beat they hadn’t used from their last album to a Bear In Heaven song (High Places and The Field). At the very least, the remixes show how firmly Bear In Heaven have a grasp on their familiar sound; they’re able to bring pretty simple songs to glorious climaxes without much extra fanfare beyond some synths, drums and high vocals. The same can’t be said about the remixes.