As Dave Wyndorf has already said about this album; it’s not a traditional remix album. ‘Milking The Stars’ is more of a “What if?” album, an exploration of where the songs from ‘Last Patrol’ could go given a few alternate directions.
It’s not something Monster Magnet have really done before. It’s not like they’ve remixed every album they’ve ever made, almost as if it were compulsory to rearrange everything a couple of weeks after release. You know… like Trent does!
So this is a bit of a fresh approach for the New Jersey legends. There isn’t an album in the Monster Magnet back catalogue more suited to this type of treatment however. ‘Last Patrol’ was originally steeped in vintage appeal and most of the re-imagining here only accentuates those qualities. There are new songs too and these are very much in the same vein, fitting comfortably alongside the ones we’ve already lived with for a year or more.
‘Let The Circus Burn’ opens up the record with a subdued and epic intro. With all the mellotron and organs present on this release; it leans slightly towards the prog of modern Opeth in places. Monster Magnet’s psychedelic tendencies shine through to regain their identity every now and then and Dave’s unique vocals stamp the double M all over it too.
One of the first reworked tunes is ‘Mindless Ones (68)’ and it has to be said that it’s not the best example of how this record works. This track was the stand-out rocker on the original album but here it soaked in creepy organs which almost have a comedy Halloween ring to them. It’s certainly different, but probably not for the better.
Thankfully, things do quickly pick up on the reworked material. Most tracks have been reworked into more layered pieces. Luscious waves of vintage sweep over the tracks and the vocals change moods from where they were originally. Standouts are undoubtedly the country twanged ‘Hellelujah’ and the ‘The Duke’ which has all the drums and Wah-Wah turned up to 11!
‘Milking The Stars’ is the best of the new songs. A big seven minute track, it has some big atmospheric spacey tones on there and is a really cool relaxed slow-burner.
It’s easy to dismiss albums like this. A cynical view is that Monster Magnet have just rehashed some old material and are flogging it to us again just a year after they last sold it to us. But what they’ve achieved here is head and shoulders above your average remix and re-recording. For the most part they’ve added to the tracks they’ve reworked and that doesn’t usually happen with this sort of project. The new tracks aren’t just cast-offs from the ‘Last Patrol’ sessions either; they’re actually really good and worth getting this album for on their own.
All in all, it’s a wonderful re-working of what was already a great album. It certainly casts a different light on these songs and sees the band stretching their musical wings a bit too. A worthwhile exercise, then…