Oneida Preteen Weaponry

[Jagjaguwar; 2008]

Styles: indie rock
Others: Parts & Labor, Oakley Hall, Plastic Crimewave Sound

Anyone who has followed Oneida through their many stops knows they are an indie-rock force, pumping out quality LP after quality LP without getting too comfortable with any one technique, attitude, or sound. It seems nothing can stop them from releasing a good-to-great album each ear, and Preteen Weaponry is another sensation that will likely be taken for granted.

Mostly instrumental and a little less herky-jerky than the Oneida of old, Preteen is the first in a reported series of three albums and is said to be wholly improvised. I’m not sure if the whole shebang came off the top of their heads, but whatever method they used worked wonders with the classic Oneida sound, pouring three relentlessly flowing ideas over three oblong tracks that generally change very little from start to finish, save the flutters and stutters that make similar improvisations by other groups either compelling or repetitive and mundane.

But remember, this is the all-knowing Oneida, so of course they find a way to make the format work, never resorting to SYR series squiggle-speak and never leaving the listener longing for more action. Which is a relief, seeing as each tune tops 10 minutes and each neglects to wander from its template.

The first movement is a sped-up version of a track that could have been the backing for a selection from Drum’s Not Dead – Liars participated in a split EP with Oneida back in 2002, mind you – with rolling toms, mathematical synth drones, and barely audible skirmishes swirling in the background. It doesn’t contain a climax, nor a noticeable changeup, but the original ingredients are just tasty enough to warrant double-dips. Same goes for the second song, though you’ll have to put on your miner helmet equipped with nightlight; it gets murky as fuck right about now, an undulating murmur forming the basis of the track while scary flourishes of noise frequencies come and go at random intervals.

After all the dungeon-dwelling, the third-and-last song is a relief of sorts. A prog-rock fantasy track with Neu! Can and, hell, even Harmonia crudely etched all over it, this number is one of the few efforts of Oneida’s that can be directly attributed to an obvious influence, and at this point, after 10 albums and almost as many EPs, all compelling, I’m not only willing to give them the benefit of the doubt but relieved to know the quartet are, indeed, human.

Superhuman, that is. I’ve never been one to judge other listeners, but I think I can, with surety, apply a statement made in the past about Danielson Famile in a complete-opposite way: If you don’t like Oneida, you’re an asshole.

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