My co-editor and I met when we worked in upstate New York at a small indie movie theatre. We would sit outside and smoke clove cigarettes and drink chai tea, and watch Otar BoJangles, our resident theatre frog, hopping around the small garden. Over long evenings spent splicing film reels and trailers together, we quickly learned that we had many of the same interests in music. She would frequent the record store that my friend ran so we always had various albums to discuss. One band in particular, aside from Pelican, was mentioned frequently. That band was Isis.
[Ed. note: due to a major shift in cultural associations with the word “Isis,” I’ve come to think of them as the most unfortunately named band. Can’t even wear their shirts anymore without thinking about fundamentalists. RIP Isis shirts and badges.]
Nearly every time she and I sit down together, be it at the diner in Queens or over ramen in Manhattan, there comes a small lull in the conversation. This lull lasts but a moment and one of us sighs and says “I miss Isis.” Sometimes it feels as if we’ve grown up together and both of us understand the void left by their breakup.
I was heavy into Isis during their Celestial and Oceanic releases and Oceanic still remains one of my top staple albums. In our opinion Isis was the type of band that had its own unique and very powerful sound. It is a very subtle art to combine the use of atmospheric sounds with the heavy gut-wrenching vocals and guitar that you come to expect of Isis. They released some amazing live and studio albums including the Oceanic Remixes which feature the likes of Mike Patton and Venetian Snares.
[Ed. note: I always thought of them as ‘pacing music.’ There’s nothing better for pacing than the opening of “Celestial (The Tower)”]
They ended their run as as they started it, on their own terms. They bowed out gracefully, stating they had accomplished everything they had set out to do. In doing so they have preserved their music so it cannot be tainted. No one can say they stuck around past their prime, or that they sold out or faded away. They did everything just as they wanted to and I respect them so much for that.