The Upshot: A Cleveland noize-funk bomb of epic proportions.
BY FRED MILLS
From the opening sounds—a treated/processed phone recording of Negative Approach/Laughing Hyenas frontman John Brannon and Obnox frontman Lamont Thomas—to the final salvo of “King Aboriginal” in which Thomas goes full-on early Funkadelic via a lysergic blues lope that gradually grows more monstrous until a sonic cloud of claustrophobia threatens to steer you off the freeway, Niggative Approach is not for the faint-hearted. Thomas, aka Nox, aka Bim Thomas, cut his teeth in Columbus, Ohio, skronk-blooze pioneers the Bassholes (a duo who prefigured the likes of the White Stripes and Black Keys and, according to more than a few observers, essentially rendered those likes superfluous before the fact), and he also served time in the, er, likes of the Puffy Areolas and Compulsive Gamblers, V3, and This Moment In Black History. But it’s been his Obnox persona that’s consistently paid off in recent years in terms of aesthetic grooviness.
Obnox has “done” rock, he’s done garage, he’s even done hip-hop (2014’s Louder Space caught a lot of people who should really know better very much off-guard), but with the hardcore, hardassed, stanky noize-funk bomb that is Niggative Approach—yes, that is indeed a ref. to Brannon’s band—he’s clearly found his (dis)comfort zone. That above Funkadelic reference ain’t random: On tracks like the cinematic noize-gospel that is “Beauty Like the Night,” the echo-drenched, “I’ll Bet You”-esque “Jack Herer” (presumably an ode to the late, so-called “Emperor of Hemp” cannabis activist), the surreal, psychedelic, pounding anthemism (term used loosely) of “You,” and the delightfully titled, though sonically impenetrable, “Afro Muffin,” Thomas pulls out all the stops without regard to genre niceties. One is tempted to call this a 15-song mashup, except that mashups tend to be either homages or parodies, or at the very least deeply steeped in irony. Nobody’s being ironic here. Obnox is here to free your mind. Maybe your ass, too—so he can beat it.
Pressed up sweet wax, jack. Download card included.
DOWNLOAD: “You,” “King Aboriginal,” “Jack Herer”