Oneida: Preteen Weaponry

By: Sarah Hagerman

Before Brooklyn was the center of the music trend universe, Oneida was entrenched in the borough plotting their auditory assaults. Fast forward eleven years and while many of their friends and neighbors have gained more recognizable popularity they still soldier on. Preteen Weaponry (released August 5 on Jagjaguwar/Brah Records) is by no means the album that is going to break them, but that would mean very little to Oneida's purity of mission. This is the first in the band's "Thank Your Parents" triptych, with the next installment, Rated O, is due in early 2009. Tantalization then runs through this project as a whole, like a radio drama narrator that asks, "What will happen to our heroes? Tune in next week to find out!" over melodramatic organ chords.

Honestly, I wasn't sure what to make of this record at first. I just knew I couldn't stop listening to it. The first couple spins I was struck mostly by the sheer unruliness, but the initial fog cleared to reveal patterns and processes. There's a divine Alex Grey-like order behind it all, yet it leaves enough organic loose ends flapping to satisfy David Lynch. Barreling through the expected and meditating on the neglected, this three-part, 40-minute song is compelling sonic conceptualism, chaos music theory combusted from captured improv moments, meticulous structure and focused repetition. Oneida pile heavy sludge and delicate silver strands on a post-apocalyptic skeleton. The guitars and keyboards take turns ominous, fragile and sci fi (in Part 3, I swear I hear bits of the theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind). Beeps, squeals and fuzz run wild through the tribal rhythms of drummer Kid Millions, or alternately just dangle over an abyss while a vocal presence suggesting Gregorian chanting in a k-hole briefly apparates, then vanishes in the vapor. The prismatic third act punctuates with a final, solitary keyboard blip – a heartbeat, exhalation or question mark.

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[Published on: 9/26/08]

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