Monday 24 August 2015

Triple Obnox Treat

One of my favourite albums of last year was Louder Space, the gazillionth album from Bim Thomas, this time in his solo guise Obnox. The guy is a gargantuan maelstrom of music, so it should come as no surprise that so far in 2015 he has already followed it up with puntastic Boogalou Reed, the garrulous fun of Know America, and the forthcoming Wiglet (through Ever/Never Records).

Boogalou Reed is more flat out, scuzzed up guitar punk with 70s psych rock riff leanings - the opening two songs, instrumental 'Wonder Weed' and ballsy 'Cynthia Piper At The Gates Of Dawn', sound like a smoked rock jam and an MC5 acolyte respectively. The hip-hop riffs are largely missing here, but their absence doesn't make this any less an Obnox record - its his enthusiasm, devilish combustion and confident swagger. And that explosive guitar. And his cheek - calling a blown-out 60s garage number 'Too Punk Shakur' says it all. But he spreads the net even further afield - 'Situation' sounds like Dean Blunt in a RnB/rock meltdown; the noise rock fuckstorm that is closer 'Protopipe'; and in a truly melting performance, he delivers one of the best covers I have heard in forever with his version of Neil Young's 'Ohio' - and seeing as Neil is my man, that makes Bim my man, too.

Then hot on its heels was Know America, a "concept" album about a radio station takeover. And it is electrifying. 'Grease' has an Outkast groove, if they scuffed up their beats with layers of dirt and grime and took wholeheartedly to a punk aesthetic. 'Cracked Up' is even more straight up punk, threatening to blow your speakers with white bleed and backed-up feed. It is ferocious in its sound and approach, and that is what Obnox is all about - it is all genuine, 100% honest, with nothing left on the line. 'Menocause' slows things down, Thomas' falsetto a softer timbre, wavering in and out of a sea of chiselled distortion. 'Loudpack' grinds as it grooves, following Thomas' hip-hop-via-hendrix delivery with a few choice guitar wails and a plethora of random noises. This jump back and forth in styles and production levels (although never crystalline) heightens the concept while allowing his creative whirling dervish to spin around unabated. There is one moment of defiant cultural awareness on 'Hillbilly Intervention' - although playing at a skit-level - seems to present the racist juxtaposition of white men in rock appropriating black music then monopolising it, a broad strokes caricature but also a subversive fingers-up salute to naysayers. Maybe I'm reading too much into it - and when 'Freaky' blasts forth, at any rate, everyone knows that this is Bim's house.

So with two incredible records already in 2015, what does Wiglet (which you can and should preorder here) promise? First cut 'Look To The Sun' is a blown-out dirge, a two-minute crawl through the distorted abyss, Bim's slow, drawled croon narcoticised and blasted. It sounds as furious as ever, and promises to be a third tilt in the one year to claim my favourite album. Obnox is the goddamn TRUTH.

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