February 15, 2002

Ida "Shhhh...."

A few weeks ago, I lamented the art of the remix album. Dismissed most of them as being nothing more than inside jokes, and that most listeners would have to know both the artist and the remixer in order to fully appreciate the material, and I stand by my original thoughts. Most bands really don't deserve the remix treatment, and it seems rather puzzling when certain bands release remix albums. Thankfully, most bands don't indulge in this once-common rip-off.

Of course, exceptions do exist, and Shhh... is most certainly a lovely little exception. At first glance, Shhh... looks to be a most interesting, fascinating little collection, if not a little unique. Every one of the songs start with the letter S, and all but one of them start with "Sh-." Heck, even two of the remixers have names that start with the letter S as well, though that may be a happy little coincidence.

In a weird way, this is the Ida that you've grown to love and respect, with a few nice little curveballs. Most of the remixers have stayed true to Ida's sad, atmospheric folk, and have simply added their own touches here and there. Warn Defever's R&B remix of "Shotgun" not only fits the song, but it also makes Ida sound a lot more emotional. Sasha Frere-Jones (of long-quiet Ui) throws in some atmosphere and beats to Will You Find Me's "Shrug," and helps to show that Ida's also not too far away from electronica. Trina Shoemaker, producer par excellence, throws in some noise to the aforementioned songs, making Ida sound rougher, slightly rawer, yet somehow more produced. Then, there are two total, utter curveballs. Truxton Park's remix of "Shoreline" makes this little song into a thirteen minute long Autechre-style electronic drone, relentless in its continual beat. It's interesting, but perhaps a little bit redundant. And as for the final track, the LA Blues Mix of "Shrug," the listener can only be surprised at the utter schizophrenic episode that takes place. Shhh... also contains three outtakes, two instrumentals, "Strings" and "Should've Called," and a nice homegrown number, "Shhh...," that, while nice, is slightly forgettable.

I think the artwork is the key to Shhh.... It's Mr. Worm, and he's sound asleep and having a pleasant dream. He looks content. On the back, he's waking up, refreshed. These lovely scenes were made by Davin, whose distinctively simple artwork has been the definitive trademark of his Time Stereo label--which fits in nicely, seeing as Ida are a quite distinctively simple band. The fact that this is a homemade record, to fill in the gaps between last year's The Braille Night and their next album, shows that Ida really cares about giving their fans music. This is both a remix album and a compilation album, seemingly from those quiet years when Ida was "on" Capitol. Shhh... fills that empty place in your heart and soul, and, unlike most remix albums, is far from self-indulgent. This is a nice, slightly imperfect album that stands on its own, even in the face of experimentation. No wonder Mr. Worm is smiling.

--Joseph Kyle

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