Oneida – Positions


The venerable experimental rock outfit Oneida return with “Positions”, a 12 inch EP released this past November by Rocket Recordings.   Oneida has built a formidable discography over their near 20 year career, releasing some of the most boundary pushing experimental music of the past 2 decades.  Effortlessly darting from drone-rock anthems to noise-punk freakouts to pastoral come-down hymns, it’s nearly impossible to pin down the Oneida sound.  

And here we are in  the new 2016 and Oneida has given us 3 songs/29 minutes of new material on this Positions EP.  What’s noteworthy about this release is 2 of the 3 songs on the EP are actually covers, although they could almost be original compositions, with the band twisting the songs into wild and distant territories that are distinctly “Oneidan” in sound and style.

Opening track “S.P.Q.R.” is a noisier, freakout version of This Heat’s original composition (from 1981’s Deceit).  It’s a blistering psych-punk interpretation of the song, with a free-form breakdown at the end.  “Under Whose Sword,” the sole original composition on the album, is a sinister drone-rock composition reminiscent of the Tony Conrad/Faust experiments.  A two-note trance bass line repeats over and over while noise guitars and feedback drones float over the top.  Closing track “All Data Lost” is a cover of British post-punks Chrome, although it’s more a wild reimagining than it is a cover.  While the original Chrome song clocks in at 3:25, the Oneida “cover” runs a whopping 16:24 in length.  Perhaps the highlight of the album, the song morphs from free-jazz noise into a transcendent kraut-state when a driving motorik rhythm kicks in and pushes the song into the far reaches of outer space.

Oneida are torch-bearers of modern experimentation and this EP shows that they’ve still got plenty of creative juice left in the tank.  Here’s to hoping that 2016 will see a new Oneida full length.  

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