ONQ - "The Supreme Weight" (Ouzel Records 2001, OUZ19)
Minmae feat. ONQ - "Bound to the Whips of the Aeronautical Fatwa" (Dhyana Records 2001, dhy035, 7" 33rpm)
From Aural Innovations #17 (September 2001)
My introduction to ONQ had been on a split CD with Minmae (reviewed in AI #14). That release featured a combination of grungy guitar rock and songs, and The Supreme Weight too focuses on ONQ's song-oriented side as well as some more avant-rock oriented tunes that I really enjoyed. The subtle complexity of the music took me by surprise making for an experience that shifts between lo-fi shoegazer psych and RIO styled avant-rock. On this release ONQ are Luca Galuppini on vocals, guitars, and synth, Mauro Costagli on drums and accordion, and Valerio Sartori playing clarinet on two tracks.
Among the highlights is "Laugh Like A Clown". Melodic and pulsating organ-like keyboards create an eerily psychedelic atmosphere that is something of a trademark sound throughout the album. In an earlier ONQ review I described the vocals as sounding like Edward Ka Spel and that's still the case. Galuppini's voice drifts along in a dreamily drugged, but impassioned style. "The Supreme Weight" is a good example of ONQ's ability to use dissonance to good effect. It's a dark, shoegazer styled tune, with dissonant chords and vocals that make the song seem a bit off-kilter but still dreamy. "Reset" is a lo-fi psych rocking tune I enjoyed that has upbeat rhythms, but of course the vocals add a darkness that really gives this a unique ONQ sound.
On the more avant-rock side is "Worst Woe", which features crashing electric guitars and semi-anguished vocals that make for a short but intriguing rocker which sounds like a stripped down version of Thinking Plague. On "Takeover", the guitar chords, melodies, and patterns, along with the percussion again has elements of the avant RIO prog bands, though this isn't what ONQ is about. A simple but creatively structured song. And the closing track, "Here come The Nostrils", is a bit different, sounding like some traditional ethnic jazz band fed handfuls of valium and sent up to play. A bit like Samla Mammas Manna actually.
In summary, I liked my introduction to ONQ but The Supreme Weight is far superior, featuring well crafted songs that straddle the line between dark moodiness and dreamy psychedelia. There's also a subtle complexity to the music that kept things alive throughout. ONQ say quite a bit in the mere 30 minute length of the CD.
And now ONQ collaborate with Minmae on a 7" release, the two's music being more than ripe for a joint project. Bound to the Whips of the Aeronautical Fatwa is a continually evolving piece, or pastiche of brief segments of tunes, that covers the gamut of lo-fi pop, and space and drone experimentalism that does a good job of utilizing noise without scaring away folks like myself who like the stuff but only as an element of something larger. Droney voicings throughout give the work a feel perhaps a bit like the Residents "Eskimo" album. That's side A. Side B starts with what sounds like an electronic lo-fi pop song played backwards. Slow, melodic, and not just a little freaky, it has a nice experimental psychedelic quality that gives it a trippy edge. Most enjoyable. The next song (I don't see any titles) is more of a standard lo-fi pop tune. A good song but not as strong as the music I've heard up to this point. But of course the gears shift quickly and we're back into noisy percussive space and chaos territory. This sucker just keeps on going, making for a short but varied ride.
For more information on ONQ you can visit the Ouzel Records web site at: http://members.nbci.com/ouzelpage.
Hear ONQ at their Mp3.com web site at: http://www.mp3.com/onq.
For more information on Minmae you can visit the Airborne Virus Records web site at: http://www.eccentrix.com/music/avirus/.
the ONQ/Minmae 7" is distributed by Dhyana Records. You can visit their web site at: http://www.dhyanarecords.com/.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz