Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Obnox's "Bang Messiah"

Genre mashups are the thing today, with dub production techniques popping up on pop-country records, and young bands conflating surf, garage, and punk like they were always one thing. Thus, it's unsurprising that Obnox mastermind Lamont "Bim" Thomas has used his prolific solo project away from This Moment In Black History to fuse garage rock and hip-hop. As Living Colour once said, "You ask me why I play this music / Well it's my culture, so naturally I use it." Or as Oliver Lake would have it, "Put all my food on the same plate." It just makes sense for musos to use everything they know, every time out of the gate.

I saw Obnox win over the young Denton crowd -- I realize I'm superannuated for club shows, but this felt like the Children's Crusade -- at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio my last time there before it closed in 2016, in between Bukakke Moms' improv free-for-all and X___X's stately punk jazz (for whom Bim kicked the traps that night). In between sets, he hung out making friends with the young fans behind the club. No star trip here, just DIY-ism at its purest.

Working with producer Steve Albini on Obnox's tenth full-length release, Bang Messiah (after MFKN RMX the Bang Messiah, who provided beats and programming here), Thomas crafted a sonic setting that swaths his live act's lo-fi immediacy in clouds of hallucinatory ambiance. From the jarring disorientation of the backwards groove that kicks open the door on "Steve Albini Thinks We Suck," Bang Messiah juxtaposes P-Funk falsetto vocals with riffs that alternately snarl and thump, veering into sinister video game music ("Baby Godmother") and creepy Barney the Dinosaur referents ("Cream," awash in keyboards), simultaneously evoking Eddie Hazel and Tony Iommi in a single solo ("I Hate Everything") before the "Cosmic Slop" groove of "40th St. Black" reminds us of how far we haven't come since the '70s.

Turn the record over, and "Enter the Hater" bowls you over with retro punk pounding before "Find My Way" carries you off to the arena with its synthesizer hook. "Rally On the Block" pulls you back down to the ground with its super heavy funk, leading into the pulsing throb of "Wake and Quake" and its evocation of '70s Blaxploitation soundtracks. Then descend into the maelstrom of "Off Ya Ass" and its Godzilla-groan cacophony before "Fluss" takes you out with a backwards groove like the one that brought you here. It's a different trip than, say, D'Angelo's Black Messiah, but one worth taking.


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