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October 4, 2023

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Secret Wars (Rough Trade)

By: Cam Lindsay

Brooklyn's Oneida has been rambunctiously making sweet noise since '97, and Secret Wars (their first album for Three Gut in Canada and Rough Trade in Europe) is no exception. Picking up where they left off with 2002's double magnum opus, Each One Teach One, the three-piece continue their mission of progressing, pounding out a tempest of riffs and wild, complex grooves. Known for their unlimited boundaries, Oneida has made this pill a little easier to swallow than their last record (it is half the length), yet it's no less mind-bending. Fluidity is a major reason for this. Clocking it at no more than five minutes (with the exception of the 14-minute finale), there is less emphasis on elongating musical experimentation, giving the band's aural acid trip a rather tuneful quality. However, Oneida aren't about churning out pop singles. "Treasure Plane" may have melody in the vocals, but it's disorder that ends up playing the guitar. "Wild Horses", on the other hand, gives the illusion that Neil Young's had his try at the Desert Sessions, mellowing out the album nearly to a complete halt. Yet, it's "The Last Act, Every Time" that shows off Oneida's incapacity to ever conform. Combining what sounds like ancient Asian influences and drugged-out psychedelic folk, it's by far the most ear-catching piece of music they've achieved so far. This is heavy stuff.
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