Oneida-Anthem of the Moon
June 11, 2013
Anthem of the Moon (Jagjaguwar 2001)
I once read that Anthem of the Moon was based on a dream one band member had where they discovered an alternate version of the Grateful Dead’s Anthem of the Sun. They even went so far as to remember each song on this imaginary album and appropriate them for their fourth and possibly best album. Although it would have been endlessly cool if did, not a single moment on Anthem of the Moon resembles a single lick of Anthem of the Sun. However, they are kind of kindred spirits in that they both try to establish their own peculiar wrinkle or twist on psychedelic rock and roll. Where the Grateful Dead tried o approximate the sounds of endlessly shifting rorschach blots, Oneida approximate the throbbing and pulsating thrills of some day-glo light show. One aimed to be amorphous, the other is precisely repetitive and structured. You’d never confuse them as kissing cosigns, but the connection makes sense if you listen to both albums as much as I do.
Anthem of the Moon is yet another album that kind of got relegated to the backburner because there were a lot of crappy flavors of rock and roll in favor and this was just the long-haired weirdo marring a landscape where electroclash was somehow in vogue. At the time, they were unstoppable live and I wish I could transport you to their shows during this timeframe because it really frazzled my mind because it was so expansive and aggressive that I truly lost myself in whatever they played. The recorded version is no slouch either and alternates between tightly wound groovers and weirdo tunes that kind of rely on organs, reverb, echo and ethereal choruses.
This album is all over the damn place. You get songs like “To Seed and Flower” which kind of starts off like some unforseen mid-ground between Bastro and Tortoise that suddenly shift into some bizarro world version of a pop-punk song. “All-Arounder” is another tale of three songs going on at once as the instrumentation layers some synth melody from a Silver Apples song over some incessantly dissonant riffing while Kid Milions sings “I can see the feeling/creeping ‘cross the ceiling all around her/All Around Her/I can See the Dayglo/Wrapping in a Halo/all Around Her.” The end result is a rare example of when you try everything at once and it somehow works. “Almagest” occupies some vague space where Wicker Man vibes can co-exist with some mid-70s Cluster record playing as the soundtrack. Anthem of the Moon borrows from the best and spits out something entirely their own. It isn’t a perfect album by any means, but it does conjure its own little world populated by song.