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

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more

2017-05-19
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more

2017-05-05
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more

2017-05-02
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Camel - Harbour of Tears – For anyone hoping that Camel might be turning out something a bit more uptempo, full of fire and color, after the somewhat 'gray' Dust and Dreams, I hate to be the bringer of bad news. This...  (1996) » Read more



Listen & discover

Byron Metcalf with Steve Roach



Print issues