Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Oneida - Human Factor on Limited Appeal Records
Limited Appeal Records was kind enough to send a stack of records from their warehouse that I've been slowly getting to, including this long player from Oneida...a one sided, etched B-Side long player mind you, with a recording of the only time this track "Human Factor" was ever performed live. From their controversial triple album I haven't been exposed to much Oneida over the years and it' maybe due to the overwhelming catalog and hardcore fans…and in complete danger of sounding like an idiot, this side came off like something in the Locrian or John Zorn camp. Do they use similar instrumentation as either of those references? Not at all, but if I walk away from anything when it comes to Oneida it's that I never have any idea what to expect, and they aren't trying to manipulate or cater to any kind of audience. They felt like they had enough material for a triple album….then they put it out, simple as that. It isn't some conceptual statement. Comparing Rated O to other bands triple albums throughout history is missing the point. The very act of getting that mammoth beast out into the world is anti everything those pretentious, self indulgences represent. I know Oneida isn't fucking with us, it isn't some elaborate joke to say "Ha, you liked us?" This is the purest form of self expression because on the surface it should appeal to no one. It's challenging, it isn't nice, or pleasant, you have to really fucking TRY to appreciate it….and beyond it being about what the band feels like exploring, I root for things like this that are mind blowing in the way they exist outside of everything you know. How much skill and theory can they throw away? How much are they willing to work against the status quo? Not that they're railing against society or something. It's YOU that has the problem essentially. They're just going where they want to go, get on the train or get off….it's your choice.
This track, "Human Factor" has some serious demented screaming. Kid Millions sounds completely tormented, while something (?) strikes a single, high pitch note with restrained percussion, but this is just getting started. Already though, it's creepy and unsettling, a catharsis for the character here and the title, "Human Factor" just makes me keep thinking about all of the ways that your own consciousness interprets this as scary...what is it inherently about these elements that makes you want to run the other way...
A creeping hum of what's about to happen...the delay of a infinite loop. Slow baleful walls of distortion far off in the distance...this is the scary tension of Oneida. Kid isn't so much yelling as making an unintelligible vocal noise that's completely frightening in not being able to decipher whatever this entity is after, you don't even want to get close enough to find out.
It always amazes me how movies come up with the worst scary bands for a dumb club scene when there are real bands infinitely more frightening. But then again, the guys in Oneida probably couldn't be bothered to deal with the terrible movie that has nothing to do with music anyway.
Snarling distortion... tinny, boxed up distortion and it's agonized squeaks. These vocals are either the victim or the terribly deformed misfit behind the scenes. Oneida seems to be exploring this kind of sheer fucked up mess, the things we're willing to do to ourselves and each other. Those instincts still buried deep down that might actually be an asset when facing an impossible enemy or outside force, as much we want to think everything is civilized. Oneida is reminding me, like any good apocalypse movie, that we're not even 72 hours away from complete chaos. Hopefully it doesn't sound like these grinding I-beams from a skyscraper. Eventually this mad man takes a break for this distanced bass line that's actually working with melody and droning off in the crawl space where a chunky guitar quietly starts building in.
Wouldn't you know it this vocal is back to continue writhing over the screeching guitar. Metallic insect drones on, getting closer, like a broken transformer, spitting and flopping around, filling up with electrons, ready to burst. Blades spinning… off in the distance rising and fading. Oneida knows you're going to make it worse, whatever it is out there...waiting.
Check out a track from Rated O, where Human Factor originally appeared: