Lamont “Bim” Thomas is a very busy man. Just last year, he put out the excellent 1982: Dishonorable Discharge with Puffy Areolas, and in the past he has rocked out with Bassholes, This Moment in Black History, The Unholy Two, and probably countless others. He has become something of a hero to fans of left-of-center and experimental punk rock, bringing many disparate influences into one raw, noisy, and hard-grooving whole. Obnox is his solo project, in which he lets his creative muse run even more wild than it already has, leading him into strange and magical musical territory.
This time, he has thrown us for another loop by releasing this double-7” comprised of four covers and only one original. The one original, the hypnotic and trance-inducing “Deep in the Dusk (Redux)” gets the party started on a weird and completely unexpected note. It’s an utterly otherwordly mix of noise, punk, psych, hip-hop, dub, and whatever else Thomas decided to throw in there. It’s really fucking strange, really fucking cool, and very surprising if you listened to last year’s Puffy Areolas LP. Not many primarily punk artists can effectively bring together so many distinct sounds into a cohesive whole, but Bim Thomas pulls it off with aplomb.
The next four tracks are covers of songs that one can assume had an influence on Thomas’ songwriting; first comes a noisy cover of The Urinals’ “I’m A Bug,” replete with his souled up vocals and totally fuzzed out guitar. Next, Gaunt’s “Flying,” gets the Obnox treatment, which in this case means getting transformed into an almost-but-not-quite hardcore-influenced psych-rock barn burner, again with totally fuzzed-out and feedbacking guitar heroics and in-the-red production. And just when you thought you knew what to expect, Obnox spews out a down-and-dirty but still reverent garage-rock cover of The McCoys’ pop hit, “Hang On Sloopy.”
In an EP full of surprises, this choice may catch the listener the most off-guard, both for Thomas’ seemingly out-of-left-field choice and the fact that the song absolutely rules when turned into a garage-punk number with sloppy instrumental thrashing and the original harmonies intact. The EP wraps up with a cover of King James Version’s transcendent soul slow-burner, “He’s Forever,” which, underneath the distortion and noise, retains the beauty and raw emotion of the original. Somehow, Obnox is able to synthesize his many musical touchstones in a way that seems totally organic; it probably has something to do with the fact that Thomas seems to be entering a musical conversation with the originals rather than either a) staying close to the original version as a tribute or b) punking up songs from other genres (not that there’s anything wrong with either of these; Bim Thomas simply chooses to engage with the source material in a very different way.) All-in-all, a great set of songs from an under-appreciated, vital, and ever-developing artist (with wide musical tastes) who’s unwilling to sit on his laurels. Pick it up from the ever-reliable Slovenly Recordings.