Oneida are quite simply a phenomenon. Whether you like them or not, you cannot fail to be impressed by the scale of their ambition or the sheer magnitude of their output. 'Absolute II' is the final album in their ‘Thank Your Parents’ Trilogy which started with 2008’s 'Preteen Weaponry' – a difficult Can-influenced listen – and continued with 2009’s 'Rated O' which was a more varied and on the whole excellent triple CD length album, with almost dance tracks abutting almost noise tracks.
The prolific output of Hanoi Jane, Bobby Matador and Kid Millions encompasses beautifully crafted songs (just listen to the simply brilliant 'August Morning Haze', from 2005’s 'The Wedding' album) to sixteen minute studies on a single riff ('Antibiotics' from 'Each One Teach One'). They can rock with the best too, as 2004’s outstanding 'Secret Wars' album clearly demonstrates.
'Absolute II' has almost no trace of rock influence, which sets it apart from the other two elements of the self proclaimed ‘Triptych’ of albums and ironically makes it the most conventional. It is four tracks of ambient music, each around ten minutes, that pulse and flicker like an approaching thunderstorm. Opener 'Pre Human' is the most accessible and 'Horizons' has a terrific vocal section, but the album is far from what is usually called radio-friendly.
If there’s a connection between the three albums, I didn’t get it but maybe it would have become clearer had I been able to attend their recent three-day concert in Brooklyn, New York where the triptych was played in its entirety, interrupted only by a 10 hour jam in F on the middle day. I can promise you that just to be able to play live this entire triptych is a considerable feat in itself, and I so wish I could have been there to hear it.
Whether 'Absolute II' is any good is what I’m sure you’ll want to know, and do you need to have heard the previous two albums to appreciate it? Well, the answer to the second question in my opinion and at the risk of being forever expunged from the Oneida guest list, is no. The answer to the first question is more complicated. It’s certainly not for the fainthearted but it is rewarding.
If you are looking for a glowering forty minutes of musical experience somewhere between SunnO))) and LCD Soundsystem then you could hardly do better. I can imagine returning to this album time and again so whilst Daft Punk may not be playing at my house, Oneida certainly will be.
FREE DOWNLOAD: Oneida - 'Horizon'
'Absolute II' is available to purchase from Amazon.co.uk, iTunes etc. Thanks to Jagjaguwar for providing the free download above.