Excellent improvised scrapey noise by Onin on their Errery (VERZ IMPRINT VI004) album. Joe Wright plays saxophone and creates “dynamic feedback”, while James L. Malone plays his guitar in an innovative scratchy manner, bringing new dimensions of meaning to the word “abrasive” with his sharp talons. This fine grumbler comes to us from Verz Imprint, a label which appears to be run by Phil Maguire, whose micro-computer experiments have been driving us up the wall (in a good way) since 2016.
If we compared Onin to my other favourite UK sax-noise combo Noteherder & McCloud, the contrasts are many and startling…the Brighton combo tend to go for juiciness and raw bones in their exploits, which probably accounts for the many famished hounds who swarm to their table (and I’m one of ‘em). Onin lean towards the sere and dry, much like a birch tree in the summer months when its bark starts turning to leather, and they push out sounds that are mean and shrivelled, like a bowl of poisoned raisins. Where both bands overlap is their sense of obsessiveness, by which I mean they keep on worrying away at a note, a theme, a pattern or an idea, until all the fibres and tendons are stripped from the bones, leaving a pile of smoking ashes behind. Perhaps one might liken this to the action of a burrowing mole that just won’t quit. Onin are very good at doing this in real time, and they enact their autopsies for stretches of 8-13 minutes at a time, allowing us to savour all the gory details as another segment of human anatomy is severed and laid aside. This strategy is particularly in evidence on the title track, an evil little noise-caterpillar crawling about your face in an insistent manner, and on ‘Shrike’s Dance’, a lively hoppamaroo which indicates the likely presence of scurrying vermin about the floor when this was recorded; it has an electrifying dynamism for sure, but may not be typical of their usual workouts.
Rest of album has plenty of metallic ringing tones and strung-out wasted vibes, but also shades into the “minimal improv” camp once or twice, there to parlay with members of Phosphor (but not with the Wandelweiser generals). Even so, Errery scores more double-tops than most contemporary forays into this particular dartboard of free-noise. Maybe the Onin team have a more greasy and streetwise aesthetic to their work than the average rarefied student of minimalism. Very good. From 19th June 2017.