Album Review: What's Your Sign by Oneida/Rhys Chatham
Excellent, Based on 4 Critics
Exclaim - 80 Based on rating 8/10
After performing on stage together in 2012 at New York's Ecstatic Music Festival, fellow rock experimentalists Oneida and Rhys Chatham joined forces to create a collaborative LP that comes off even more eclectic and exploratory than one would expect. Working off of the Brooklyn five-piece's dense use of repetition and the Paris-based musician's penchant for loose, freeform guitar expressionism, What's Your Sign? does a terrific job of mining what makes each entity so beloved within the experimental music scene. Though many would postulate that the world-class drumming of Oneida's Kid Millions would be the key to holding these six tracks together, it's actually the triple-guitar threat of Chatham, Hanoi Jane and Showtime that provide the Sonic Youth-esque "Well Tuned Guitar (Oneida Version)," post-rock builder "A.
Through most of What’s Your Sign?, the new album by veteran maximalist composer Rhys Chatham and Brooklyn DIY drone-blasters Oneida, Chatham takes only minimal steps into the spotlight. Perhaps inverting the usual super-session logic, Chatham’s guitar and trumpet blend convincingly into Oneida’s 15-year-running noisenik dynamic, while the quintet channel the power of Chatham’s work. The 35-minute LP never achieves the epic scale that both can work at—Chatham with his armies of up to 400 guitarists, Oneida via their rigorous eight-hour-straight Ocropolis performances—but each of the six tracks generates a be-here-now flash of present-tense psychedelia, hallucinations by way of overtones and volume.
It’s match that makes sense on paper. Oneida, the experimental psych rock band that uses repetition to drill holes in your skull, Rhys Chatham the minimalist innovator whose primary instrument is guitar and was, early on, transfixed by the Ramones. It also makes sense on the record, which ranges in style from the drone-sheathed, punk-fueled rockery of opener “You Get Brighter” all the way to the acid-free-jazz, brass-enhanced “Civil Weather,” which showcases both Hanoi Jane and Chatham on trumpet.
Dust Vol. 2, No. 21Rob Noyes photo by Lindsay MetivierFor our final Dust of the year, our writers attacked their to-do lists with unusual force, as we all made an effort to finish off 2016 with a clean slate. The result is one of our longest and most varied round-ups ever. Bill Meyer, Ian Mathers ….