ONEIDA & RHYS CHATHAM — What’s Your Sign

Album: What's Your Sign

Artist: Oneida & Rhys Chatham

Label: Northern Spy

Release Date: November 11, 2016

http://northernspyrecords.com/

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The Upshot: The combination of energies is so seamless that it’s hard to say where Oneida leaves off and Rhys Chatham begins.

BY JENNIFER KELLY

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. In between, we get a limpid, liquid rendition of Pythagorus-inspired “A Well-Tuned Guitar,” with Oneida’s Kid Millions in full free-jazz, slipping off the precipice mode and guitars splinting like rainbows into the tones between the tones and the bent-note, noise fuzzed sprawl of “The Mabinogian.”

Most of the disc is unruly loud, but look for quiet solace in the slow procession of reed notes at the beginning of “A. Phillip Randolph at Back Bay Station.”(The cut named after the celebrated black labor activist who organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in 1925 and persuaded Franklin D. Roosevelt to prohibit racial discrimination in defense contracts in 1941. )  The combination of energies is so seamless that it’s hard to say where Oneida leaves off and Rhys Chatham begins, and yet, both artists seem to benefit from a push outside their regular territory. You could call “You Get Brighter” the best Oneida track in years, but it’s just a starting point in going out, way out, of the expected.

DOWNLOAD: “You Get Brighter” “A Well-Tuned Guitar”

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