Onus

Onus – ‘Survival Burden

Limited Edition Chrome Cassette in Lino Print Cardboard Slipcase (including download code)

Housed in an icy seascape lino-print, the second Onus release, ‘Survival Burden’ opens with the expansive, oceanic basslines and crashing drums of ‘Urchins’ and ‘Ensimismada’ –with knotty narratives about slums, tsunamis and frozen time, rising up beyond the edges like freak cephalopods from the melodic waves and dissonant undertow. Then we have the claustrophobic space-rock of ‘Headguest’ before side A closes with ‘Schrine’; where a mesmeric build-up of dense arpeggios powers a chant on the arbitrariness of identity.

Side B takes us back out to sea with ‘Macey’s Letter’, with a sweet melodic motif engulfed in cascading bass and staggered drum patterns as words about ships, nations adrift and floating coffins are wrung out of the wash. ‘Colt Running’ is a tremolo-twang pop tune about equine abattoirs and ‘Emil’ –a cold-war dirge about skeletons in ashen forests. ‘Nerve Clinic’ ends the set, gleaning odd pearls from a gone-to-seed farmer, housed in a criss-cross glasshouse frame of gleaming bass and cymbal ricochet.

Limited to 50 copies with lino-print sleeves, each including a download code (also available separately from bandcamp).

Buy from Norman Records or Bandcamp

 


Reviews:

Cassette Gods

Welsh tape-slinging sorcerers, SIVILISED, have lined us up with a really great pair of tapes to get lost in, and I humbly suggest enjoying them back to back as I have for the past week or so!
 
Onus’s “Survival Burden” starts out with the mood of some wizard captain’s hazy tale of sailing seas of fog and seductive miasma-burned-aura, his declarations weaving violently back and forth between manic and stoic, the baritone guitar work and bass lines independently choking the atmosphere further, the ritualistic percussive mantras flirting with overwhelming fervor; make no mistake, Onus know how to kick out some seriously thick grooves and still keep on an ambient tip, still urge the mind to wander a thousand distant shores while still being spellbound by their tidal pull.
 
Enter into this equation Atlantikwall’s “Anura”, a palpably sweat-palmed conjuring pose, a blitzkrieg of alarm clock persistence, bleating disembodied organisms half-orgasming in electrically syncopated throes of bliss and confusion. Between these two bands, a spirit-DNA is shared around post-punk aesthetic, the desire to maul your mind into submission (one through enchantment, the other with melodic estrangement), and just outright being reminded how goddamn good the 90s were for East Coast/Midwestern (USA) indie bands like June of 44, Lungfish, & any number of Louisville visionaries!
 
These two cassettes come in sexy O-Cards with understated printing and are Well Worth the effort to listen to on a repeated cycle for many a day. Headphones or not, separate or together, they’re a series of R-E-A-L trips!
 
— Jacob An Kittenplan
 

Onus – ‘Ratsickles

Limited Edition Chrome Cassette in Lino Print Cardboard Slipcase (including download code)

Debut by Onus presenting six tunes honed from baritone guitar, bass and drums, each hosting intricate, chorus-sung narratives from vague and seemingly remote space-time locations.

The music is dark-toned and downbeat; with descending arpeggios and sparse cyclical riffs a-plenty, interlocking with skeletal drums to provide lean bones for nebulous melodies and scuffed harmonies to take hold.

Lyrically, the album opens up snapshots of rewilded outskirts, ritual humiliation, generational rifts and dispossessions; mining deep veins of residual cultural memory vivid enough to feel like premonitions. Lighter relief is to be had with more abstract grapplings with mapping the unknowable and framing a response to divine silence.

Limited to a measly 50 cassettes with lino-print sleeves, each including a download code (also available separately from bandcamp).

Buy from Norman Records or Bandcamp


Reviews:

Cassette Gods

I’d be a real lying son-of-a-beast here if I said that Onus’s “Ratsickles” was a “must hear” for the general rock populace. Whilst melodically SOLID, they’re probably too stoic in their presentation to command the average, passing listener’s attention. Their powerhouse is in a concertedly shamanistic patience, their lock-step-rhythmic chanting, a sincere, open-ear’d ceremonial bliss. I won’t even talk about the stop-on-a-dime timing!

When it comes down to it, Onus are an undeniably Serious. Itch. Scratcher. This three piece is an outright Drool-Worthy outfit to watch out for, especially for all lovers of Lungfish’s ritualistic grooves, Seam’s lush indie-guitar wizardry of the flat-pick’d riff, and, OH!!! that fucking brilliant mid-low tone from Sonic Youth’s most (imnho) tonally beatific masterpiece “Murray Street”! No, it’s not made for everyone, but (made for) quantity ain’t (made for) quality, either, now is it?!

Comprised of drums, bass, and baritone guitar, each instrument carries its own rock-solid, independent weight whilst a slew of layered, disciplined baritone vocals drag our minds into and out of lock-step, angular grooves, replacing them (and us) within/out abstract lyrical positions. Strum-free, the (baritone) guitar lines are occasionally looped over and accented with timbre’ly -potent pedal’d-textures…and I realllly hope I get to see these folx play the west coast sometime soon, to see if they use a loop pedal and THEN explore overtop it, live, or do they just hire another touring musician? Do they all sing at the same time, or is it just one singer’s multiple takes in the recording? Or is it all just one person creating these rhythmic mantras in their garage studio? I’d love to hear the outtakes and demos, too!

When you’re sick of party melodies and want some lyrical jams to seaweed sway to, give this half-hour palette-wetter a few repeats and you’ll probably fall in love like I did. More please!

— Jacob An Kittenplan

Norman Records

Am I good at my job? No. I was supposed to cover this extremely beautiful tape a few weeks ago and totally forgot. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: fire me. In my place, start a band and hire someone from Onus. Get them to write songs for you. This tape for usually pretty leftfield Sivilised is a lilting, twanging, forward-momentum indie record that distills everything I love about lo-fi, and in particular, one thing: its ability to make disaffection the most moving thing you could ever feel.

“Cinnabar” opens this record like an old-school slowcore tune you might irresponsibly put on/receive on a tape for/from your crush — it’s the least romantic thing ever but its gorgeous guitar line sounds fraught with emotion, matched with a vocal line that only cares about moving forward through it all. It moves into “Parnassus”, guided by a grumbling bass line and a muttered, whispered and snarked vocal line that could get Bedhead a few centimetres glummer. On this tune, Onus really locks in, circling the drain of their riffs for seven minutes without hoping for a resolution — they eventually invoke chaos as the guitars start to tremble off at the edges and their singers start to wear themselves out from all the mingling.

These sparse tunes of baritone emotions will appeal to pretty much anyone schooled in sadcore, and they’ll grab that crew too: there’s something about the way Onus write these songs to sound both stuck and pacey at the same time, moving between slow-burning and active as if they’re the same thing. Really lovely greyscale pop hits.