Tuesday, November 20, 2012

ONO - Albino [2012]

Since I mentioned these guys in my End Result post, I figured I should bring it to your attention that ONO released a new record on Halloween. It is a hell of a thing. But before I get into the record perhaps some introduction is in order:

Around 1979 or 1980 the two founding members of ONO, P. Michael and travis, started playing dirty R&B tunes at strip clubs, weddings, wherever else would have them. They were as likely to play stuff by King Crimson as Rufus Thomas or Bo Diddley. Eventually they found their way into the punk scene via queer bars like La Mere Vipere, O'Banions, and Medusa's (travis had been on shore leave from the Navy in time to be around for the Stonewall riots in NYC), freaking out the audiences at shows they played with Chicago bands like Naked Raygun, the Effigies, Algebra Suicide, and of course End Result. Actually their first gig in late 1980 was opening for Special Affect, which featured a pre-Ministry Al Jourgensen. Whenever out-of-towners like Lydia Lunch or Cabaret Voltaire would roll through, ONO would bring the noise.

During that first decade ONO released two LPs, 1983's Machines That Kill People and 1986's Ennui. Two slabs of true weirdness ... people were not particularly receptive to the industrial-noise-gospel-synth dirges contained on those albums, especially when confronted with the band members' outlandish stage attire and unsettling ritualistic behavior in live shows. Still, the band continued to perform through to 1990, appearing on compilations alongside Algebra Suicide, Portland weirdos Smegma, and a whole rabble of forgotten groups. For more info on the band's history, consult the writeup/interview in Roctober, always an authoritative source for Chicago punk and outsider musics.

There wasn't much noise from the ONO camp through the '90s, though travis and P. Michael kept themselves busy with other projects. Then, in the late aughts the world seemed to catch up to them, and ONO started gigging again at various DIY venues throughout Chicago. Which brings us to Albino: a haunting  summation of the dark magic the group have generated over the past three decades. I could tell you about "I Been Changed," with its gospel-tune lyrics of redemption sung over a Birthday Party-style blues-punk din, or the excellent cover of the VU's "All Tomorrow's Parties," but really my words can't do this album justice. Just hit play:

Albino is out now on Moniker Records in a pressing of 300. You can stream the album and purchase it on the label's bandcamp page.

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