Release Date: Jun 6, 2011
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Garage Punk, Indie Rock, Post-Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
The conclusion of Oneida's Thank Your Parents trilogy got some initial attention when word emerged that Kid Millions' signature drum drive wouldn't be featured, but such is the strength of the band that Absolute II functions both as conclusion and its own distinct release, an intentional contrast of the band's huge, entrancing drive for sheer trance; if Neu! could work both sides of that coin, there's no reason why a later band couldn't, either. Beginning with a growling keyboard figure/loop, "Pre-Human" starts the album off on a note that suits the song title. It does all feel a bit primal, like something that slowly emerges from the mists, echoes and further shimmers rolling out slowly like a distant, strange ceremony is being conducted somewhere.
In 2009 the Flaming Lips invited Oneida to play at a day they were curating at an ATP festival in upstate New York. That pairing felt like an inevitable convergence of like-minded talents-- two similarly wayward outfits naturally coming together. Both have gone though stages of late-career reinvention, both have a fondness for repetitive psychedelic rock music played loud, and both have demonstrated scant regard for conventional career trajectories.
This send-off into the vacuum realm above completes the Thank Your Parents trilogy begun three years ago with Teenage Weaponry, three long songs heavy on trance. Oneida continued in 2009 with Rated O, a sprawling triple-album’s worth of clang, clatter, and clash added to longer drones. Absolute II ends the experiment with no drums at all. Kid Millions, after working lately with White Hills, does not feature his dramatic bashing here at all.
Oneida has always been an ambitious band. Over the course of 11 LPs since 1998, the band has strived to touch every corner of the outer reaches of the rock spectrum, from go-for-the-throat noise rock to psychedelic pop whimsy, and from beer-soaked rock ‘n’ roll to virtuoso psych-rock shredding. Such versatility has led to polarized criticism. On one hand, the band could be “the next big thing” if only they’d settle on crafting more records like The Wedding, which somehow managed to tie together the missing link between E6 psych pop and Deerhoof’s Reveille.
So Oneida's Thank Your Parents triptych of albums - which began with 2008's Preteen Weaponry and continued with 2009's epic triple-LP Rated O - finally concludes with the bafflingly titled Absolute II. The use of a title that suggests the sequel to another series of records altogether is an apt gesture; Absolute II maintains the challenging sonic, melodic and rhythmic experimentations of the series (and indeed the spirit of Oneida's back catalogue at large), but it differs markedly from those records at the same time. Those first two records seem of a piece, whereas Absolute II is a notable diversion away from their mainly shared sonic palette.
Not many bands are afforded the luxury of a “triptych” of albums, especially one as indulgent as Oneida’s “Thank Your Parents” (of which Absolute II is part three). It’s unclear what the premise of the project has been, but it showcases Oneida spinning epic psychedelic drone records, sounding raw and uninhibited, experimenting wildly with styles. It began with 2008’s unified 40-minute composition Preteen Weaponry – a sprawling work that somehow morphs around various moods while never losing its vitality.