Album of the Day: Oneida & Rhys Chatham, “What’s Your Sign?”

Considering Rhys Chatham once wrote a seminal 400-guitar symphony and starred in the No Wave scene that gave us arty and angular post-punk acts like Mars, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, and DNA, it’s no surprise that the composer/multi-instrumentalist hasn’t mellowed in his 60s. If anything, the fangs of his full-lengths have only grown sharper, from the psychedelic ambient-noise passages and loping John Fahey licks of last June’s Pythagorean Dream LP to the war-like racket of the new Oneida collab What’s Your Sign? Much like the pair’s Ecstatic Music Festival performance four years back, these six original, earplug-optional works aren’t the least bit polite. They’re noisier than a construction site, veering through jagged elements of experimental jazz and raucous space-rock while colliding with chain-linked power chords, tricked-out trumpets, and Chatham’s serious loop/delay setup. And to think the Lower East Side icon was “a little nervous about how things were going to go, because I was thinking of [Oneida] as basically a rock group, perhaps with a bit of an edge and a bit of noise.” Lucky for him, Kid Millions and company are much more than that. They’re perfect sparring partners, pushing What’s Your Sign? into sublime madness.

—Andrew Parks

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