Release Date: Mar 24, 2015
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Post-Rock, Experimental Rock
People of the North may have begun life as a satellite of Brooklyn avant-everything institution Oneida, but it’s increasingly difficult to view the project as anything less than a primary concern. From the raw garage krautrock of 2010’s Deep Tissue to the snarled wavelength scrambling of 2013’s Sub Contra, People of the North is where organist Bobby Matador and drummer John Kid Millions—joined, frequently, by Oneida guitarist Shahin Motia—go to really let their hair down. Sightings bassist Richard Hoffman sits in for Era of Manifestation, a dense suite of molten noise-jazz that suggests a deconstructed On the Corner sans funk and horns.
It's difficult to imagine that the members of Oneida, a band willing to draw from any number of sources of sound and rhythm with little regard for the accepted rules of popular music, would feel the need to have a less structured side project, but keyboard player Bobby Matador and drummer Kid Millions have been slipping away to perform improvisational music under the banner People of the North since 2010. Era of Manifestations, the duo's fourth album, is a dizzying but compelling set that pays little mind to conventional notions of melody or meter, but Matador and Millions have a keen sense of what's exciting and what isn't, and there's an engaging byplay between them as they work with dynamics and the give and take of dissonance and assonance, while Matador summons buzzing, pulsating lines from his keyboards and Millions lets his drums roll and tumble over it all. The music on Era of Manifestations is certainly in the tradition of post-psychedelic improvisation, but there's just enough backbone in these recordings to suggest these guys have been listening to a good bit of free jazz lately, and the supporting performances by Richard Hoffman on bass and Shahin Motia (another member of Oneida) on guitar add welcome textures to these workouts.
Buried beneath the frenetic drum fills and the disjointed drone wails of People of the North’s Era of Manifestations is the understanding that silence is a void. With this record, the duo utilizes sounds - be they melodic or ambient, cacophonous or severe - to craft an audible topography. The landscape created isn’t necessarily accessible, but the myriad number of textures vying for sonic salience ensures that Era of Manifestations is consistently captivating.
People of the North — Era of Manifestations (Thrill Jockey)In the late 1830s, the millenarian cult known as the Shakers entered into a wildly psychedelic phase, called the Era of Manifestations. In it, founder Mother Ann encouraged followers to see visions and hear voices, to spin in tight circles until dizzy and to express these transportive experiences in music, art and dance. People of the North, likewise, embrace the mystical experience through music, playing tight circling riffs until the spots appear before their eyes and the barrier between being and doing and knowing breaks down.People of the North is essentially an avatar of Oneida.