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Oneida - A List of Burning Mountains

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Artist: Oneida

Album: A List of Burning Mountains

Label: Jagjaguwar

Review date: Jan. 16, 2013

Oneida - "A List of the Burning Mountains Mix"

My first reaction to the 40-minute, two-track performance A List of Burning Mountains by Oneida was to marvel at its adventurous dive headlong into the world of noise, a genre preparing to celebrate its centennial year, courtesy of Futurist painter and cranky music reviewer, Luigi Russolo. (The reader is certainly encouraged to review this formal emancipation of noise sounds for a bit of history fun.) My second reaction was to note how powerfully the title colored my listening experience. Oneida planted a seed image of volcanoes in my brain that I rather enjoyed — so proceed with that note of caution and please excuse my susceptibility to context and reductive onomatopoeic thinking.

The opening of Oneida’s first track begins with a vulnerable homage to that familiar push and pull of creation and destruction, a subtle binary warfare between sound and stillness, eerily similar to Ash Ra Tempel’s Silence Sauvage. While the aforementioned krautrockers eventually draw us out into an obliteration of sparkles, Oneida’s first track forces the oscillating rhythm through a monstrous eruption of screaming climaxes. A percussion of bedrock flares up all around us. The sensory spectrum is engaged and Kid Millions has my full attention.

Whole minutes of chaos pass by before it all strangely forges into something genuinely beautiful. The haunting pieces fuse together with seeming rhythmic deliberation. Something has been built, but what? Fleeting, it too soon self-destructs. The coda drags along, punctuated by sounds of struggle or pain — a kind of alarm or sense of urgency.

Similar in tone, the second track streaks across space in metallics, complemented by layers of throbbing and raucous drone. The whole sensation seems atmospheric — higher in space than the first track, with tips singed in fuzz. The mood is more constant, simmering with intensity. The percussion is still thunderous and consuming, eating up space; and when the drone alters even a half pitch, the mood quakes. For this reason, the second track is wholly unsteady and intoxicatingly delightful. Both tracks eventually fuzz out, pelting down retreating rhythms while an amusing 8-bit ping flirts with our ears.

My only albeit unrelated gripe is why the official music video offers more of the same psych-jam static. The A List of Burning Mountains performance is a stand-out LP, which shows a pleasing growth of confidence to expand beyond the confines of hyphen-rock. As we blow up the next hundred years of noise, Signor Russolo and his intonarumori, or “exploder,” might be proud.

P.S.: More fun with Noise! Listen to the intonarumori.

By Erin Leigh Zimman

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