Fresh Stream



A ways back (March) Chicago’s ONO released a new record called DIEGESIS on Chicago’s wonderful MONIKER RECORDS. It’s their second release for the label, and some number farther down the line in the larger discography of this band that has delighted Chicago underground music goers off and on since the early 80s. And this record is easily one of the best I’ve heard all year, and one that I’ve been coming back to over and over for the last many months, never getting around to spilling words and guts about it until, well, until right now

Unfamiliar with the band until their (so far only stellar) work with Moniker over the past few years, it proves difficult to discern the full story of their last few decades from internet sources. There were two early and mid-80s releases*** (I have not heard either sadly), which if judging albums by their covers are, assumed to fall somewhere along the spectrum of CRASS/ CITIZEN FISH (done up in ONO’s FUNKADELIC spiked way) politically minded punk/ post-punk freak-ery. Their first show was a shared bill with NAKED RAYGUN. And prior to that singer travis had shared bills with PERE UBU back in his hometown of Cleveland. travis and fellow member P. Michael remain from the original incarnation of the band, and still steer the band through this new phase that blossomed in the late 00s as Chicago’s inspirational, and free-thinking music and art scene surrounded ONO with buoyant love, support, and incredible musicality (Hassle favorite Ben Billington has played with the band). As Moniker themselves state, “Rarer than a phoenix is the band whose ‘comeback’ is more vital than its original incarnation.” And that is understating the situation even, in my mind. A tale starring a legendary, but recently dormant band of decades past, that reemerges to find that the world and their city’s music community has finally caught up to their ideas isn’t that odd in these days of BOBB TRIMBLE, DEATH, and GARY WILSON (to name a few, of quite a few examples). For that band to begin anew though, to merge with their new appreciators and to now have released two AMAZING records (this uplifting metamorphosis started with ALBINO in late 2012) just seems impossible.

That is what’s happening here though.

DIEGESIS is 7 tracks, most travelling beyond the 5 minute mark, and each spectacular. Nearly constant throughout is travis’ rhythmic spoken word/ voice as instrument attack, and P. Michael’s fat bottomed arrangements that travel from noise funk onto industrial thud all the way through to several different varieties of dripping experimental ether that partially obscures its undulating and propulsive rhythmic spine. Two Boston bands that remind me in ways of the smart, strange music found here are (NEW ENGLAND) PATRIOTS and PARTICULARS. ONO’s music is mesmerizing, their story great and inspiring, and by all accounts their live show living up to it all. I just wish they’d come to Boston! Uncorrupted vision does not get compromised by age, and ONO is a pure example of this very idea, an idea with not enough examples to turn to. Hopefully more of us can look to our adventurous, more seasoned contemporaries for the still vital music & art they are creating after witnessing the wonder of ONO. “travis Wax Madonna” might just be my favorite of these 7 deep DIEGESIS cuts. Out of the gate so funky, acoustic piano & synthesizer creating an uneasy undercurrent that threatens to turn to crashing wave constantly. travis lights up the stark, dank landscape with a flow that flits back and forth between English and French phrasing, most often bouncing in syncopation with the established bass/ drum + more groove. Trumpet is here, getting used as it so rarely seems to these days, playing an integral role in this experimental tapestry. Multiple guitars eventually enter the fray and the entirety takes on the heady, gurgling nature of some prime, and raw krautrock jam that it is just impossible not to shake your body to.

Or maybe it’s “BLACK POWER.MOVE”, the most relentlessly funky concoction to be found on the record. If there was a definition for weird funk in the ol’ Merriam-Webster, then this organ and trumpet splattered behemoth might very well be it. A perfect and beautiful melding of funk, post-punk, and experimental music making approaches. Any way you slice it, this is a deep record, calling for you to return to it once you’ve taken your first intoxicating sip. Man, Chicago does it correct. So inspiring. DIEGESIS was recorded in stellar fashion by another Hassle friend, CAVE/ BITCHIN BAJAS’ Cooper Crane.

*** Steve “Plastic Crimewave” Krakow’s label, PRIORITY MALE has re-issued ONO’s MACHINES THAT KILL PEOPLE, and will be re-issuing their ENNUI.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License(unless otherwise indicated) © 2019