Static—as a state of being—is a concept rather unknown to Brooklyn band Oneida. The loss of their homemade studio shortly followed the completion of their 2006 album Happy New Year. Falling victim to the ever-advancing mall-ification of America, the band’s private recording space housed them through many of their seven prior full-lengths. Preteen Weaponry, their first since that inevitable act of gentrification is, expectantly, another genesis in style and sound for the eclectic New Yorkers. For all of New Year‘s prog-like pacing—the Kraut-rock repetition that seemed initially weird and slightly disorienting—it could easily be considered the `pop’ precursor to Weaponry‘s ambient drones.
Oneida’s incessant refusal to adhere to any sort of stylistic boundaries has in many ways been the driving force behind their steady proliferation. The band’s relationship to sometimes-New York residents and fellow sonic disruptors Liars—documented on their split collaboration Atheists, Reconsider—serves as a telling example of their similar distaste for musical stagnation. Drummer Kid Millions, keyboardist Bobby Matador and guitarist Baby Hanoi Jane are veritable sages within their community; having played countless loft and warehouse shows in Brooklyn long before you could get your TV on the radio.
But enough about place—in the physical sense anyway. Preteen Weaponry explores landscapes as distanced from normal reality as it is the psych/garage/rock the band’s earlier catalogue is (perhaps inadequately) defined by. Deemed part one of a forthcoming triptych entitled “Thank Your Parents,” Oneida’s latest is an (almost entirely) instrumental movement three songs long, titled fittingly “Part 1,” “Part 2” and “Part 3.” “Part 1” plots a patient course through mountainous guitar ranges that dip as often into gentle valleys as they summit its highest emotional peaks. Akin to narcotic sludge rockers Bardo Pond—with its emphasis on lumbering progressions and a fistful of fuzz—Weaponry works diligently to earn the adjective “druggy.”
It’s not as if the band has ever issued anything that wasn’t at least mildly experimental—they thrive on the sort of genre defiance that might confuse those unfamiliar with their constantly shifting aesthetic—but with Weaponry, Oneida finally sever the threads that once tied them to concision (though there are three technically separate tracks) and the idea of song structure in general. What little (indiscernible) vocals there are enter only after nearly 20 minutes spent steadily manufacturing dense synthesizer squall and Sonic Youth-inspired feedback frenzies. The staggering 11 and a half minute length of “Part 2” makes it the shortest track here. Millions’ precise percussion—scattershot as improvisation jazz drumming one moment and tribal the next—comes into much sharper focus throughout; as such his rhythms keep Oneida’s vision from gazing into some space-rock black hole.
Preteen Weaponry—though it relies on the suggestion that with a thorough enough listen (and a decent pair of headphones) one might invoke a trance-like state the envy of those who regularly practice meditation—transitions Oneida smoothly onto their only next plausible plateau, the ambient amplitudes. Much like Portland ‘s criminally ignored experimental music community, which seems to grow richer and more bizarre by the day, Oneida’s cross-country nesting grounds in the Big Apple relate an appreciation for mood and texture that continually challenges perceptions of music’s endlessly creative potential. Oh, and static (the kind you hear).
Bardo Pond – Amanita
Pyramids – Pyramids
Yume Bitsu – Auspicious Winds