Oneida - Secret Wars - (RTRADECD138)
Brooklyn’s Oneida have been kicking against whatever there is left to kick against since 1997’s A Place Called El Shaddai’s. Operating somewhere in the white noise margins between Kruatrock & Suicide, Oneida are every bit as enigmatic as their name suggests (ever since I bought 99’s Enemy Hogs I’ve been pining for Oneida to eat NYC whole & spit out every bandwagon jumping exponent of ‘carport punk’ onto the dirty sidewalk below in the process).
Oneida have shrunk since 02’s Each One Teach One: Papa Crazy, the group’s guitarist, was forced to hang up his axe after a bizarre finger compromising incident involving an electric saw & complicated micro surgery. Some fingers allegedly made it through - but not enough to form a Suspended B Flat Minor (Oneida’s most frequently employed chord) - & so Papa Crazy is looking for an employer sympathetic to the needs of the disabled & Oneida are a three piece: Hanoi Jane, Fat Bobby & Kid Millions.
Secret Wars is the 1st Oneida release to surface on Rough Trade Records in the UK - & one that is totally au fait with the kind of envelope shreading normally associated with the label’s classic Post Punk releases. Standing just to the left of the door marked ‘avant-garde’, Oneida are committed to stitching the word ‘art’ back onto the words ‘rock’n’roll’. Secret Wars is the first Oneida LP they didn't cook up themselves or with Peter Katis at Tarquin Studios. Tracks 1-5 were recorded and mixed at the Rare Book Room with Nicolas Vernhes whilst tracks 6-8 were recorded by Oneida at the Travel Agency, and mixed by Barry London in Barry's Sweltering Attic. Oneida’s album art designer, Kayrock, also plays gongs on "Caesar's Column."
In texture & feel, Secret Wars is a close cousin of Wire’s Send. Fuck the endless Can references that litter Oneida’s press like discarded Coke containers - that’s just lazy. There is a malevolent intent present in the music Oneida create. They stalk you. They may not have your best interests at heart. I don’t think they’re in it for the money.
Treasure Plane is the sound of grown men grafting nursery rhymes onto musique concrete without the aid of a mixer. Caesar’s Column may well be 3 different songs brought together exclusively for the benefit of the title. Capt.Bo Dignifies The Allegations With A Response IS Wire. Wild Horses could be the great lost Rocket From The Tombs cut - the greatest song Peter Laughner never wrote. $50 Tea is mesmerising - it sits around contemplating Suicide & time travel whilst hurtling towards the future faster then you can say ‘Julian Cope’s the only person on the planet that really likes Faust’ (isn’t he). The Last Act, Every Time samples a ukulele & what sounds like a backwards (broken) glockenspiel but remains tender & touching throughout. The Winter Shaker picks up the one-chord repeatisms of Each One Teach One & makes like there are a million miles between each string - before dropping another twisted playground chant on top of it all like a skip load of chocolate fudge sludge at a pro-celebrity mess making competition. Changes In The City lulls you into a false sense of security - blankets you in bass - & then fucks you up the preconception bracket with a rusty iron dildo.
Stricken with insecurity & oozing confidence at exactly the same time - Oneida are the perfect contradiction you want to come back to time & time again.
Image means nothing. Taste means nothing. Oneida means what ever the fuck you want it to mean - & don’t let anyone tell you different.
Harrison Bored - tMx 13 - 01/04