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

2018-02-18
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

2018-02-15
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

2018-02-14
Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

2018-01-30
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more

2018-01-18
Christian Burchard RIP – Multi-instrumentalist Christian Burchard, who founded the seminal band Embryo in 1969, has died at the age of 71. His January 17 passing was announced on the band's Facebook page. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Vanderhoof - A Blur in Time – Those who have heard of Kurdt Vanderhoof will know him as a member of the band Metal Church. I’m no fan of that band (or metal in general), but I had heard his other-band-cum-solo-project Vanderhoof...  (2004) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues