Release Date: Nov 13, 2012
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Armed with one of the more respected back catalogs in the realm of ambient art-rock, Oneida has begun to transcend the tenets of the repetitive, psychedelic noise mishmash they helped usher into New York’s underground in the late ‘90s. Their 12th studio album, A List of the Burning Mountains, is as utterly discordant as any other of their enormously lengthy recent releases. As such, it’s ripe for both hyperbole and head-scratching.
Something about A List of the Burning Mountains makes me want to describe it as Oneida getting back to basics. The problem is I'm not sure exactly what "basics" would mean in the context of the Brooklyn band's vast sonic universe. Through a dozen albums in 15 years, they've covered a daunting amount of territory, darting between rock, noise, psych, drone, electronics, and minimalism.
Here’s the 12th album in 15 years by these prolific and singular Brooklynites, recorded in their beloved studio, the Ocropolis. It finds the band in a low gear, almost idling. Unsurprisingly for a group that can so effortlessly lock into 10-plus-minute endurance jams, this particular idle is like that of an unpredictable, high-horsepower engine—all sputtering nervous energy, audible tension in the holding back.
A List of The Burning Mountains follows Oneida’s Thank Your Parents triptych of records released between 2008 and 2011. The first of this trilogy was Preteen Weaponry, a psychedelic kraut-prog jam divided into three long tracks. Next was the triple-CD set Rated O, an assured multi-genre demonstration of everything the band is capable of, from industrial ragga and booming jackal-disco to psych-rock callisthenics and screaming noise-rants.
The success of A List Of The Burning Mountains — the first Oneida record following their 200+ minute musical triptych called Thank Your Parents that spanned three years and three albums – rests squarely on the sticks of drummer Kid Millions. For their 13th LP, Kid Millions functions as the de facto leader of band, who are somewhat of an institution in the experimental/avant/noise/out scene Brooklyn performance spaces. This is a band whose versatility and evolution transcends simply being coined as “progressive” or “genre-defying”.
After the enormous life-sapping project that must have been the Thank Your Parents triptych of albums, what next for Oneida? Three records that seemed to point the way to all the band's pasts, presents and futures simultaneously, and culminated in the glowering form of Absolute II, possibly the most fearlessly experimental album this fearlessly experimental band have ever made. An album that at points feels like it could be better described through the medium of drawing than through words. Once you've recorded a definitive statement (and a triptych is as defined a statement as you can get), where do you go next? The ability to explore ideas over long periods of time is something that has always defined Oneida, from their mantric fifteen minute showstopper 'Sheets Of Easter', to the opening part of the …Parents' trilogy that was the dub-infused Preteen Weaponry.