People of the North

Era of Manifestations

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It's difficult to imagine that the members of Oneida, a band willing to draw from any number of sources of sound and rhythm with little regard for the accepted rules of popular music, would feel the need to have a less structured side project, but keyboard player Bobby Matador and drummer Kid Millions have been slipping away to perform improvisational music under the banner People of the North since 2010. Era of Manifestations, the duo's fourth album, is a dizzying but compelling set that pays little mind to conventional notions of melody or meter, but Matador and Millions have a keen sense of what's exciting and what isn't, and there's an engaging byplay between them as they work with dynamics and the give and take of dissonance and assonance, while Matador summons buzzing, pulsating lines from his keyboards and Millions lets his drums roll and tumble over it all. The music on Era of Manifestations is certainly in the tradition of post-psychedelic improvisation, but there's just enough backbone in these recordings to suggest these guys have been listening to a good bit of free jazz lately, and the supporting performances by Richard Hoffman on bass and Shahin Motia (another member of Oneida) on guitar add welcome textures to these workouts. While most of the six pieces presented here (recorded during a single six-hour session in Brooklyn) follow a similar approach, the twists and turns vary enough to keep the album compelling, and the stretched-out guitar lines snaking through "A Leaky Boat of One's Own" and the minimal fragment of "Vise" are standout moments in this constantly evolving aural landscape. Era of Manifestations is fine stuff for listeners who appreciate a challenge rather than a passive experience, and it's a must for those who enjoy Oneida's sonic experimentation.

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