You want to hear a major understatement? I’m not a big fan of remix albums. It seems that bands typically throw in an amateurish techno beat, remove the better parts of the arrangement and call it a brand new “composition.” Thankfully, that’s not what ARCTURUS does here at all and neither do they go into the electronic minimalism of Garm’s more recent work with ULVER that so many found repugnant (myself included, maybe – I can’t decide). Anyway, leave it to a band like ARCTURUS to actually release a remix album that doesn’t make you want to slit your own throat.
This record acted as a placeholder between the releases of “La Masquerade Infernale” and “The Sham Mirrors,” and contains material recorded and created during the period right after “La Masquerade”. “Disguised Masters” is divided into three sections, each of which is distinct from yet flows perfectly into the others. First is “Preludium,” which contains a short ambient intro followed by the only completely new track here, “Deception Genesis.” The track sounds more like the “La Masquerade” side of the band than the “Sham Mirrors” side, but is in general a lot more subdued and atmospheric. Closing out “Preludium” is a rerecording of “Du Nordavind,” originally released on the band’s debut, which sounds simply awesome. Some evil crazy carnival circus Black Metal, right here.
The next six tracks compose the “Interludium,” all of which are substantial reworkings of LA MASQUERADE INFERNALE tracks. Unlike typical cut-and-paste remixes, these definitely add new dimensions to the songs and in one case (“Master Of Disguise”), even find the inclusion of gangsta rap. You gasp now, perhaps even cringe, but trust me – it’s not all that bad at all. After “Interludium” we get “Postludium,” which consists solely of a string version of “Ad Astra,” ending this sometimes frenetic album on a soothing note.
If you’re skeptical about “Disguised Masters,” buy it to finish your ARCTURUS collection, knowing that while it isn’t going to be the same sort of listening experience as the band’s other albums, it will still make a worthwhile addition to your collection. If you’re not an ARCTURUS fan, however, or are just getting into the band, don’t even think about this one. (Online January 17, 2006)