Oh Sees / Escape-ism at Union Transfer
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Thee Oh Sees
Psych-punk psychic warrior, ear worm-farmer, and possessor of many stamped passport pages John Dwyer does not let up. His group Oh Sees (aka Thee Oh Sees, OCS, The Oh Sees,
etc) have transmogrified to fit many a moment - from hushed druggy folk to groovy demonic pop chants to science fictional krautrock expanse and beyond - to suit his omnivorous whims. It’s common knowledge however, that at their shows, you’re there asking for a beating. 20 years going and the shows keep getting more and more intense, as many a soupy swarm can attest. The locked-in Rincon/Quattrone drum cops propel masses of strangers to froth and lean into each other as the insistent and repetitive underpinning tumbles nimbly from Tim Hellman’s bass. Meanwhile John ricochets breathy yips and snippets of synth and all manner of guitar heroics around your brain canyons while your reptile instincts yell “move”. Brain-stem body rock meets cerebral expanses, and their now du jour prolifically feeds a labyrinthine garden of well-hewn tunes.
Last year’s Orc was a muscular and darkly inventive turn for the group, stretching out further into space while simultaneously sharpening their heaviest inclinations to a rusty point. After a re-visitation of the softer side of the genesis of the group with “Memory of a Cut Off Head”, all signs point to another banger on the horizon as the group decamps this March back to the dusty pecan farm where Orc was spawned for another go-round.
Introduction to Escape-ism shouldn’t only be reviewed in the music press but in the “world affairs” column of a conspiracy-minded newspaper, on a hot-rod review TV show, or possibly at an important conference by a renowned astrophysicist. It’s that important!
Why? Because it’s the first “solo” record by Ian Svenonius—of groups The Make-Up, Chain & the Gang, The Nation of Ulysses, XYZ, Weird War, etc. and author of underground bestsellers such as The Psychic Soviet, Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ’n’ Roll Group, and Censorship Now!!—and as such, it’s profound, prophetic, perverse, and poetic… It’s introverted glitter, violence against the state, obsessive desire; it stomps on convention, shreds constitutions, clobbers pre-conceived notions of what a record can be.
Yes, that’s right: a single-person performance by I.F. Svenonius—recognized by Performer Magazine as the “greatest performer on the planet”—Introduction to Escape-ism is a bite into a one-banana bunch.
A drum box, a guitar, a cassette player, and a single slobbering, sinful voice singing out…for a way out. Live, it’s a new paradigm of performance: raw, gestural, idiotic, sublime, revolutionary, poetic, faux naïf, unknowing, a drainage pipe that leads to who knows where.
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123