Oneida

Absolute II

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The conclusion of Oneida's Thank Your Parents trilogy got some initial attention when word emerged that Kid Millions' signature drum drive wouldn't be featured, but such is the strength of the band that Absolute II functions both as conclusion and its own distinct release, an intentional contrast of the band's huge, entrancing drive for sheer trance; if Neu! could work both sides of that coin, there's no reason why a later band couldn't, either. Beginning with a growling keyboard figure/loop, "Pre-Human" starts the album off on a note that suits the song title. It does all feel a bit primal, like something that slowly emerges from the mists, echoes and further shimmers rolling out slowly like a distant, strange ceremony is being conducted somewhere. (It's not black metal in that regard, but it's probably not that far removed.) When it echoes away into a low, slow-building harmonium hum and echoed notes, the band's embrace of the drifting and zoning side of the prog/Kraut/space rock approach for a new era makes sense; one can sense the antecedents, yet this feels like something new, just enough, like an exploration rather than a recapitulation. The scuzzed-up guitar/noise line that opens "Horizon" soon melts into one heavily flanged vocals suddenly which kick in like incomprehensible signals, making the sudden, clear, clean guitar note even more shocking in context, like a moment of relative clarity that the rhythmic grind-pulse of the scuzz guitar then contrasts again, driving it into the ground as a drum replacement of sorts, as it evolves into a slow, seemingly endless flow. "Grey Area," with its looped after-echo of feedbacked pulse and monolithic, metal-grinding, one-chord riffs recurring after lengthy pauses, is at once obviously simple in its elements and a quiet masterpiece of control. There's a sense of how far everything can be pushed, how things emerge from the background hum, concluding with quicker strikes. Finally, the title track and overall conclusion is, in contrast, perhaps the most minimal thing one could expect, a true coda in its quiet, careful rise of feedback interplay and irregular pulses, a sense of a slow collapse in front of a distant, uncaring god.

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