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

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

John Surman - Way Back When – John Surman (saxes), John Marshall (drums), John Taylor (electric piano), Brian Odgers (bass guitar). For many readers, that list alone puts this on the must-have list. Throw in the recording date of...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues