A List of the Burning Mountains is the latest studio album by Brooklyn psych/noise/kraut godfathers Oneida. It was recorded at the Ocropolis, the band’s longtime studio, and is a powerful, sweeping gesture that evokes the storied history of that space and Oneida’s dedication to a diehard independent music and art community.
Burning Mountains is less a traditional album than a tiny sip from an endlessly roiling sea. Oneida is known for long-form improvisatory performances and collaborations; this release serves as a concentrated blast from a wholly unique band known for 12-hour live, improvised performances and multi-day recording sessions.
Absolute II is the final piece in Oneida’s Thank Your Parents triptych of releases, begun in 2008 with Preteen Weaponry and followed by 2009’s acclaimed triple disc Rated O. With this release, the Brooklyn group concludes a challenging and profound long-term project. The Thank Your Parents triptych, totaling around 200 minutes, is intended to be listened to as a whole or in its component parts. Absolute II stands on its own, in addition to serving as a chapter in an immense whole.
Oneida has delivered a monster named Rated O which happens to be the crowning achievement of their storied creative lives. By producing this colossus they have also created the necessity of its destruction -- which within the confines of this tremendous accomplishment -- they do so handily and with utter fluency. Perhaps Rated O represents the encyclopedic representation of ONEIDA MUSIC, ONEIDA CREATIVITY and ONEIDA INSATIABILITY. As the leviathan rises from the murky depths to endow the idle watch with illusion, disillusionment and mortal terror -- thus Oneida leaves a hieroglyphic spume upon the glassy surface of what is KNOWN and UNKNOWN. The music contained within the covers of Rated O must be seen as a gifted wilderness that when traversed will grant the traveler both a fractured mirror and a demolished and worried pathway deeper into the abyss. This album is an attempt to contain the entirety of Oneida and thus it points the way to infinite rebirth and boundless creativity. It is a finite map and the suggestion of unknown worlds. We finally have in our hands the album that Oneida has often gestured towards. Ladies and gentlemen, this is one of the greatest triple albums ever recorded.
Oneida has been releasing genre-defying music since 1997. They have nine full-length albums (one as double album, and now one as triple album) and various EPs and singles to their name. The list of great musicians and artists that Oneida have performed or collaborated with is far too extensive to briefly summarize here. They are critical darlings, they have become ambassadors for Jagjaguwar, and they are paying it forward with a label of their own called Brah Records (distributed by Jagjaguwar). For the reductivist in you, consider Oneida the bastard offspring of a Can/Suicide marriage, a band who is not afraid to pluck, tap, bend, synth or crash their way to the various extremes of rock, pop, folk and the avant-garde, and who brilliantly do so without alienating the respective fans of any of these so-called "genres".
"Preteen Weaponry" is part one of the "Thank Your Parents" triptych of Oneida releases. Oneida members past, present and future all contributed to this project. It reminds Oneida of what a live performance might sound like. It contains captured improvisational moments married with craft. You can consider it an introduction to their forthcoming triple album "Rated O", which is part two of the fore-mentioned triptych (to be released by Jagjaguwar in early 2009).
No band has been so praised for such a wide range of music over the last ten years than Brooklyn’s Oneida. Nobody has come close to matching their output of dazzlingly creative, uncategorizable music. Psychedelia, minimalism, maximalism, one-step, infinitewave, blah blah blah blahâ€¦it’s all there, all the time; and Happy New Year, the band’s ten billionth album, is Oneida’s zenith. Simultaneously the most eclectic and most coherent album they have yet released, Happy New Year flows flawlessly from a traditional hymn of grim beauty (“Distress”) through hypnotic rounds, thunderous kraut grooves, severe ballads, and other, indescribable music. Phil Manley of Trans Am and the Fucking Champs and experimental pianist Emily Manzo return for encores of their guest appearances on 2005’s The Wedding; they are joined by Shahin Motia of Ex Models, Brad Truax of Home, and frequent Oneida collaborator Barry London.
Oneida came up with the idea for The Wedding in early 2001, and immediately began building the largest music box on the east coast of the United States. Built of plywood, salvaged marine pilings, industrial motor parts and over seventy saw blades, the hand-cranked behemoth was assembled in the warehouse loading dock that’s also home to the Vale of Tears, Oneida’s own recording studio. By hammering nails and spikes into the cylindrical pilings at carefully mapped intervals, and rotating the pilings through thickets of variably-tensioned saw blades, Oneida created and recorded unearthly tones and melodies; these were subsequently used as the basis for a series of melancholy, yearning songs that now see the light of day as The Wedding.
After working for several years to complete the songs, the band added a number of complex, lush string arrangements. Brian Coughlin, leader of the NYC new music group Fireworks Ensemble, contributed his arranging talents and assembled a group of string players whom he felt were capable of understanding the unusual demands of the songs at hand. “Other than my version of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring for Fireworks, no arranging task has pushed my skills and talents to such extremes as the music of Oneida,” according to Coughlin. “The emotional complexity of the music is unmatched -- except maybe by the steel-drum version of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ I arranged for an amusement park,” he laughs.
Other guests at The Wedding include Phil Manley of Trans Am, Adam Davison of Company (who also appeared on Oneida’s recent EP Nice/Splittin’ Peaches), Brad Truax of Home, and avant-garde piano wizard Emily Manzo.
Oneida’s Secret Wars is a Pacific summerjam. It’s got Balinese gongs, Hawaiian ukuleles, red wine, injuries, glee, and a song called “Wild Horses” that's written by Oneida. It’s also got a lot of good advice. With their new full-length record, Brooklyn sons Oneida simply start where they left off with Each One Teach One, their highly acclaimed and soon to be classic double CD and LP that came out last year. (Jon Pareles of the New York Times dubbed it a top ten pick and Mojo called it an essential underground record.) But these purveyors of righteous noise and indignation never stopped in the first place. Almost immediately after wrapping up Each One Teach One, they collaborated with the Liars on a split EP while touring both Europe and the United States. In the meantime, they also created Secret Wars. Their trademark iterated and psych-tinged noise attack is still fully intact, both nervous and subdued at the same time - like what happens when you give meditative children trained in the ways of yoga an excessive amount of caffeine. If there are any new wrinkles to be discovered, it is perhaps that, even more so than on Each One Teach One (Oneida’s Tago Mago), Oneida seem to be mining the same fertile ground as Kraut-rock visionaries Can, effortlessly shedding the constraints of pop forms and structures while still remaining soulful and spiritually centered all along. Like spazzing out in the Lotus position. The album was recorded and mixed by Oneida at the Travel Agency and with Nicolas Vernhes (who recorded the most recent albums by Black Dice, Ted Leo, Fischerspooner, amongst others) at the Rare Book Room.
This is the double CD version of Oneida's already legendary double LP Each One Teach One, the first truly heavy psychedelic rock record of the new millennium, originally limited to 500 vinyl copies packaged in individually hand-screened packaging (released by Version City).
Oneida, responsible for the unstoppable rock opus Anthem of the Moon, have dropped on the Earth nine extended, blown out new songs that reach far beyond the fairly concise bursts of noise and melody found on previous records. On the two CDs that form the CD version of Each One Teach One, Oneida are given the chance to stretch their rock to their breaking point and beyond, offering up enormous, dripping wet slabs of extended, linear noise mayhem, hollowed out hulls where ghosts of America sing songs that few will ever hear, and longer takes on the sort of speed-fueled manic garage grot that's graced the band's songbook from the start.
Recorded at Tarquin Studios and outdoors in the Stones (the band's personal retreat, located near the New Hampshire border), the ten songs on Each One Teach One find Oneida at the peak of their all-out-rock phase, sounding more like their incomparable live shows than any of their previous records.
Put the first CD on and lie down on your floor with your eyes closed. Have a friend around to put in the second disc when it is time and to guide you on the trip it'll take you on. Headphones or loudspeakers recommended for playback. Discover the miracles of your Third Eye with Each One Teach One.
ANTHEM OF THE MOON -- recorded in the stones by Oneida. Mixing and additional recording by Peter Katis at Tarquin Studios.There's an awful lot of "psychedelic" music around these days, mostly of the gentle, sprightly, cosmic nature. It has seemed to Oneida for the past couple years that the world has forgotten a huge part of the critical essence of the psychedelic experience: anxiety, dislocation, alienation and half-formed terror. With ANTHEM OF THE MOON, they're out to remind the world why psychedelia matters.Over the course of thirteen months, Oneida made repeated journeys to an array of Colonial-era ruins in the woods of western New England, where they had set up a small mobile recording unit in the midst of the stones. They recorded each of these trips, ending up with a massive trove of tape reels, from which the bulk of this album was distilled. Sounds of the stones and the night woods saturate the recorded music (including the ghostly screech of a barred owl on "Almagest"), literally and emotionally; the naked, anxious exhaustion, ecstasy, and paranoia that the listener hears are the real thing.ANTHEM OF THE MOON is a literal and figurative field recording -- of voices: animal and human, real and imagined, whimpers, moans, screams and incantations. Their trip is no fucking picnic in the meadow -- it's a journey into the stones.
This is a reissue of Oneida's landmark second full-length, which was first issued on the now defunct Turnbuckle label. It was with this record's original release that this motley crew of spinmeisters first made a name for themselves. Just when everyone had thought that there was yet another band in the world with the sole intention of devoting itself to the indulgent pursuit of the endless permutations of "noise exploration", we got instead a "slippery" masterpiece that, according to Mojo (for which this record garnered Rock Album of the Month honors), melded "rock'n'roll, garage punk and New Wave [with] Hammond organ arpeggios [bumping] into parping jazz trumpets and MC5-inspired riffs, while a discordant Suicide-spooked backdrop keeps the paranoia levels up." Hopefully, you get the picture and understand why we deemed it necessary to reintroduce this to the masses, with the added bonus of a previously unreleased track to boot. Finally, Oneida offers this explanation:Back in the winter of 1998 when Oneida couldn't find anyone trustworthy to supply us with psychedelics we made some of our own. Using Fat Bobby's childhood chemistry kit and a vintage recipe found in a community library, we made a small batch of mind moonshine to get us through the long session of what was to become ENEMY HOGS. Beginning in the dark days of the cold winter of 1998, we proceeded to lay down thirty hours of seamless brain-boiling freak-out in the tradition of who-the-fuck knows. In those days we ate, slept and lived in Studio Tropical. One morning we awoke to PCRZ weeping over an indoor bonfire of the tapes. After we barely escaped with our lives and the rest of our crystal, we asked Crazee what moved him to destroy what we had begun to call our "mind garden." "The weeds," he said, "The weeds."What I think he was trying to say was that our vision had become compromised in a cloud of paranoia. We were letting the demons outside the hallowed walls of Tropical dictate the sounds that were reaching the tape. So we began again in earnest and with double doses of the mind moonshine. The results you now have in your hands. We were able to save one complete "song" from the destroyed tapes and include it here for the first time. The track is called "O.D.B." and we wrote it after Old Dirty Bastard from the Wu Tang Clan got shot in 1998.
We will concede this to the latte-sipping coffee table theorists of the world. When it comes to the small slice of pop culture called American rock music over the last three decades, a profound shift did occur when the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was signed into law on July 17, 1984 by Ronald Reagan. The rock farm leaguesÃ£traditional rock and roll venuesÃ£took a big hit in the nose, and ever since rock music has been less "substance-tial."
Well, thank God for Oneida.
With their third full-length record COME ON EVERYBODY LET'S ROCK (their first full-length record for Jagjaguwar), Oneida conjure up the spirit of a forgotten past -- from the heaviosity of Deep Purple and Blue Cheer to the hooks of Humble Pie and Foghat to the attitude and dirty swagger of early Alice Cooper Band. The Brooklyn rock band also lives up to the tale of the tape, hands down being the best live band in New York City at this very moment. So infamous are their live performances that even overseas the British press makes it their business to hail Oneida as purveyors of the burgeoning New York City "Loft Party" scene (the new rock farm league?). Best of all, Oneida are smart and are as rooted in the present as they are informed by the past. Consider for instance their take on the global economy as poignantly expressed in "Doin Business in Japan":
When I do business I do it in Japan / I am signing contracts that I don't understand /But it don't matter when the deal is done / I'm getting higher than the rising sun
Stand clear of the mirror and get away from mom and dad's robitussin. This is the great rock record by Oneida we all have been waiting for.
According to Oneida:Oneida -- called a whole lot of names -- "the organic Kraftwerk", "bastard prodigal sons of Afrika Bambaataa," "Brooklyn's electro nightmares unleashed" ...and it's all true. Claims of jazz refuted here. Oneida is all rock, all beat, all the time. This record is our nametag.Break your door, steal the shutters, dear landlord: there's a price on your head and Oneida's new STEEL ROD EP is embedded six inches into the back of your skull. All you old men, handing out religious brochures and telling the youth that they've lost to the devil, take a look into your own asshole. We think you just might find our new CD, the god you've lost and a nice little piece of pipe. Give or take five screaming cuts about new identities, new visions and civil war -- Oneida's Steel Rod lays down another testament to bein' free like we want it to be. Remember Watson and Crick? Well, we think that Nobel Prize needs to be recalled and delivered to the real innovators of genetics: us. Ever wonder what an "XXY" baby looks like? Listen up. I think you'll hear its fragile egg shell mind crying out on track one.Some say our "Steel Rod" is discriminate. Not so -- we smash it all up -- but ask questions later. The board rooms are still talking about the event described above. Suits and casual Friday types keep Oneida in the minutes these days. This Steel Rod we keep talking about -- look at it as our scale of justice. Eyes wide open, next stop "Tennessee." The Union presence is keeping the good people down, disguised as police. But we're not heartless. We shed a tear on this track... for the dead men in blue, piled up in our wake. Climb onto our "Hell Train" headed for the promised land. Paranoia, beer, and trucker's speed fueling the next binge on the devil's consciousness. We think it's all damn sinister. That there's an end coming. It'll get your ass. Listen up. It's knocking on your door. It won't stop here.