Monday, November 14, 2011

Music Library: Om and Oneida

Om - Variations On A Theme (2005), Conference Of The Birds (2006), Inerrant Rays Of Infallible Sun (Blackship Shrinebuilder) EP (split single with Current 93, 2006), OM/Six Organs Of Admittance split (2006), Pilgrimage (2007), Gebel Barkal 7" (2008), Live At Jerusalem (2008), Conference Live (2009), God Is Good (2009). After the extraordinary stoner metal band Sleep broke up in 1998, guitarist Matt Pike went on to form High On Fire while bassist Al Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius formed Om, a two-man, all-rhythm section band that was part heavy stoner rock and part drone-oriented space rock. They are astonishing for what they can do with such minimalist power. Many of their songs are quite long, although they started to punctuate the longer songs with shorter interludes on more recent albums. Hakius left after Pilgrimage, but the new drummer Emil Amos is just as expressive. Most of these releases are quite similar, though, with every album being as much a variation on a theme as the first. I like Pilgrimage and God Is Good the most because they add in quite a bit more dynamic without losing the all-important focus on the mystical drone.

Oneida - Enemy Hogs (1999), Come On Everybody Let's Rock (2000), Anthem Of The Moon (2001), Steel Rod EP (2001), Atheists Reconsider (split EP with Liars, 2002), Each One Teach One (2002), Secret Wars (2004), The Wedding (2005), Happy New Year (2006), Nice/Splittin'? Peaches EP (2008), Preteen Weaponry (2008), Rated O (2009), Absolute II (2011). Oneida is just as experimental as Om, although all they share is a sense of drone. Oneida has a healthy interest in many other styles and sounds, including classic rock, krautrock, fingerstyle folk (strangely enough), and lots and lots of noise. The earlier albums feature songs that are more conventionally structured than the later ones. Each One Teach One, a major turning point, starts with two roughly 15-minute tracks that are both built are minimal riffs (the first, "Sheets Of Easter" is pretty much a single chord). Secret Wars, a truly great album, incorporates many of Oneida's interests into a coherent whole. The Wedding and Happy New Year are close behind, although both are more eclectic. Preteen Weaponry is pretty much an amazing, sprawling single track split into three parts. Rated O brings in some dancehall sounds from the third world, strangely enough, and spans a three-album length with not many stops between songs. Absolute II, unfortunately, is no fun at all, a four-song, mostly keyboard-dominated album that seems to be all about trying the patience of listeners as the band tosses out annoying sound after annoying sound. Sorry, I came to this party for some mind-melting eclectic psych jams, not the sounds that Kraftwork would reject as too inhumanly dull.


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