After a slew of tour diaries and elusive gigs, we finally get to hear a live Swim disc except, of course, being a Swim release this isn't an ordinary live album. Instead of releasing a live gig verbatim, Colin Newman and Malka Spigel have produced a disc with studio re-recordings of the live tracks in a similar vein to Wire's IBTABA.
Some tracks are very similar to their album counterparts. Tethnic '99 simply cleans up the original and adds a better set of sounds. Likewise, Humans and Dreamwalking are not much different to the takes on My Pet Fish.
The stronger tracks are those that distance themselves from the originals in some way. I'm Spaced (In) starts off like the Bastard track but adds guitar riffs and a lush vocal that sweeps over the mix. Similarly, Water Walker takes the remix from Water Communications a stage further with various strumming and buzzing guitars providing a counterpoint to the bubbly electronics. It's Odd is also a success and finally lives up to its name with reversed noises and moshed beats combining to make a suitably 'odd' sound that outshines the original.
Oddly for a Newman/Spigel porduction, the mix seems a little unbalanced—some of the additional guitar parts tend to get lost in the mix—but the sound is typically clean and this clarity enhances the majority of the tracks.
While not being nearly as revolutionary as My Pet Fish or Bastard, this is a useful release for fans of either of those records. More than just a bunch of remixes, it manages to succeed on its own merits and, despite the fact you'll have heard much of the cotent before in some form or other, there are still some surprises waiting to be discovered.
Craig Grannell (April, 1999)