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Oneida - Each One Teach One

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Artist: Oneida

Album: Each One Teach One

Label: Version City

Review date: Jun. 25, 2002

Released only in a luxe double-LP silk-screened ltd.-edition collector-scumfest whuzza-whuzza, Oneida’s Each One Teach One is some sort of object lesson: a record as heavy, self-indulgent, and resplendent as its package. Which is to say it’s a Big Rock Record, however big you take your rock (Oneida being the one band on the planet qualified to open for, variously, Andrew WK, Lightning Bolt, GBV, and Danielson).

A huge sound, a freak sound—it’s all the fucking same. Oneida connects dem dots with a mainline to the paranoia vein: high volume, high repetition, organ drone and guitar feedback and monster drummer. That’s the sound of their live show, and that’s the sound, at last, of this record, after forays into fucking songform on their last two on Jagjaguwar (an actual live split with 25 Suaves on Bulb excepted) (meanwhile, O Delicacy, the band is arranging strings for its next record) (and working on a high-concept wedding album?) (the two Jagjaguwar records being, roughly, respectively, 70s rock and hippie-hobbit-rock concept albums, and for all that, excellent) (and their second record, Enemy Hogs, featuring a children’s choir) (and the Steel Rod e.p., until now the closest to the live sound, retrospectively seeming a concept album about organ jams) (making this, what, a concept album about a live show?) (a concept album about bloated rock concept albums?).

For now, then and perhaps and anyway, the sidelong opener “Sheets of Easter” sounds a statement of purpose, 10-odd minutes of airless, deathless jamming on one organ riff and one beat, the band yelling “Light,” the drummer playing a series of fills illegible in the red mix. It takes Neu’s “Hallogallo” endurance contest and does it one better. No wide-open spaces and rolling development; just claustrophobia and slabbed overdrive. Can the band take it? Can you?

Things open up on the rest of the album, but the m.o. is the same: heavy heavy psych that fuses hair-to-butt 70s rock, fairydust baroquery, post-punk noisedrone, and the now-tech that Trans Am, Oneida’s most recent tour partner, has used to futureworld up its dystopia. That’s side two especially: “People of the North” turns the drum machine up so loud the speakers crackle, “Number Nine” vocodes and processes things to a sweeping ambient chill before the drummer comes in and the machines start breaking.

Side three (“Side Teach,” after sides “Each” and “One,” before “Side One” redux) is a more shapely, turned-down jam; each instrument lets its freak flag fly in turn before all start stabbing at once. Halfway through the side, the jam asymptotically grinds to a halt in an unending screech; it becomes a lullaby, vocals cooing, feedback aswirl, Metal Machine Music out of nowhere, and then the end. Except for side four: three songs, one with vocal cadences that hit like forestfolk hip-hop, the last a bass organ dirge against a piano tinkle, almost a joke on instrumental album closers if it weren’t so heavy. Even when Oneida are smirking, they’re rocking harder. Get this one while it lasts, because it rocks as hard as anything this year.

By Sam Frank

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Find out more about Version City

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