Exposé Online banner

Oneida / Rhys Chatham — What's Your Sign?
(Northern Spy NS 080, 2016, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-04-10

What's Your Sign? Cover art

We’ve covered Glenn Branca in these pages before, but Rhys Chatham has so far avoided our attention. Like Branca, Chatham is a modern composer with elements of minimalism to his writing who often uses electric guitars in ensembles. Chatham is particularly notable for such works as “A Secret Rose (For 100 Electric Guitars)” and “A Crimson Grail (For 400 Electric Guitars)” as well as numerous works for smaller groups. Oneida is a New York group known for noisy, often lengthy, improvisations built around driving beats, kind of an updated take on classic Krautrock infused with noise and free jazz. Throw these players together in a studio, and the result is by turns motorik bliss, squelchy stuttering, schizophrenic soundscape, distorted drone, and even trumpet duel (both Chatham and Oneida member Hanoi Jane play trumpet). The tracks were developed out of improvisations, and they all maintain a loose, collective feel, without any player dominating, and they wisely moderate the pieces’ lengths — only one strays a bit above nine minutes. “The Mabinogian” consists of dizzy, distorted chords from slide guitar punctuated by blasts of noise and electronic twitters. But it’s done in a way that has a sensible flow to it, so it works. “Civil Weather” begins with a free tempo and a trumpet backed by droning synths and erratic drums, and ebbs and flows over its four minutes, with shimmering keyboards and occasional guitar stabs, then drifts off into a wash of echoes and reverb. Obviously, What’s Your Sign? is not going to appeal to lovers of melody and clever counterpoint, but in the realm of noise rock, it’s a distinctive flavor with many elements to please adventurous listeners.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Rhys Chatham, Oneida

Latest news

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Iconoclasta - La Granja Humana – Though I’ve been reading about them in Exposé for years, this is the first Iconoclasta I’ve actually heard. I’m going to leave aside the concept-album aspect of Granja Humana (Human Farm in...  (2001) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues