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).
We’re stoked to have scored exclusive copies of this awesome tape on Sivilised – the label that previously released now sold-out tapes from Mirror Gaze and Atlantikwall — the latter appeared in the Quietus top 100 releases of 2016. You’d be forgiven for thinking ‘Ratsickles’ was at times the work of a full band, however it’s entirely the work of one very talented man – Jim Knight who is also behind Mirror Gaze, Atlantikwall and Chuch. As well as writing, performing, recording and mastering this stuff, he also creates the artwork. This offering comes in lovely handmade lino-printed art, in an edition of just 50 copies.
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.
“Cinnibar” 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.