Oneida - Absolute II LP
Oneida - "Absolute II" LP (Brah/Jagjaguwar, 2011)
Following 2008's "Preteen Weaponry" and 2009's sprawling 3 disc "Rated O", the final installment of Oneida's "Thank Your Parents" trilogy "Absolute II" is firmly rooted in the minimalist tradition. Steve Reich's "Pendulum Music" is a touchstone, as is Philip Glass's "1+1". At times it bears a similar textural heft to Brian Eno's work with Harold Budd on their "The Plateaux of Mirror" collaboration. In terms of eyebrow-raising deviations in style it's not dissimilar to the arcane moods of Scott Walker's "Tilt" and "The Drift". Like "Preteen Weaponry" this isn't an album that needed to be divided into individual tracks, although there are four of them, beginning with "Pre Human". The opening is built around a single repeating keyboard riff that's lightly distorted and sounds not unlike something Martin Rev from Suicide might have left on the cutting room floor around the time of their first album. It feels like a reflex shift out of the jagged edges of "Rated O" and into calmer waters, especially when it relaxes into solitary organ drones and droplets of water-like piano plinks.
This isn't music as escapism, it's music as challenge and provocation. Even the closing title track, which is all hushed-out generator hum and occasional murmurs of instrumentation, falls loosely into the same kind of disconcerting atmosphere as the incidental music to David Lynch's Eraserhead. Oneida are often talked about as a band that should have reached a wider audience, but they won't achieve that here, and they don't seem to care. They're a group whose music takes a great deal of time to sink in, where the process of evaluation slowly unravels over years and months rather than days and minutes. It's the reason why their album "Each One Teach One", which is over a decade old, is only now being fully unpacked and canonized as a major piece of work. Thank Your Parents will take an equivalent span of time to reveal its secrets, especially as this final part is likely to be met with a large degree of bafflement on first listen. But taken as a concluding piece of a larger body of work, as this is intended to be heard, it's a fiercely individual statement to end this chapter in Oneida's unique history.