I sometimes drop the ball, getting enraptured in what’s going on around and within me. But it’s all good though because when it involves listening to Cypress Hill’s latest Elephants On Acid (BMG Distribution) and if you thought the group couldn’t challenge listeners any further, guess again. From the over-the-top Punjabi rhythms to spaced-out, outer world lyricism, Sen Dog and B-Real are with it. But I digress because it’s not what I should be focusing on. See what happens there? Over and over again.
OBNOX – BANG MESSIAH (SMOG VEIL)
I sit here ruminating over Obnox completely confounded as to how the one-man band that is Lamont ‘Bim’ Thomas, has released so many recordings over the last decade and yet, goes virtually unrecognized in mainstream culture. Why? Well, that’s a question most will never be able to find an answer to because Obnox is well versed in multiple genres and crosses what we may believe to be boundary lines, with ease. The newest album, Bang Messiah (Smog Veil), the 13th release as Obnox, could be a cultural masterpiece for a number of reasons.
Firstly, Thomas has been best known for his work in the Cleveland, OH punk enthusiasts This Moment In Black History. This is where he cut his teeth, and obviously and how he first met engineer Steve Albini, who recorded the band’s It Takes A Nation Of Assholes back in 2005. But this isn’t a history lesson, we’re here to talk about Bang Messiah, the album by the slept on Obnox. The album follows up last year’s Niggative Approach, an album full of 16 tracks of blistering originality that burned down everything in its path. Bang Messiah plans on keeping that momentum going in the same manner where Thomas controls every instrument here with Albini behind the boards. That’s not his secret weapon but it helps to have someone who understands what’s it’s like to go against the grain.
Opening the album with “Steve Albini Thinks We Suck” is a plausible idea in the context of creativity here, and a comical one at that, but I’m sure no one believes it. The .44 second track sounds like Obnox sampling itself with straightforward lyrics “You don’t like me? I don’t give a fuck, I’m a for-real ass nigga,” is obvious tongue-in-cheek wordplay. But it’s the appeal of Obnox, not just to the hipster crowd of indie-philes that dig unconventional, frenetic instrument play, but also to inner-city crowds raised on deep bass vibes, and funky rhythms hearing the drummers get wicked. There’s a plethora of genre-jumping, the funk-a-delic sounds of “Peek-A-Boo” to the electronic beeps of “Baby Godmother,” which I’m sure any EDM heads with any sense could tear this apart, sampling pieces of its perfection. And then Obnox completely obliterates everything with just one song: “I Hate Everything,” channeling his inner Hendrix as many artists have tried but none have been able to. Until now. It’s amazing as if he’s traveled through some time warp and ably captured the watery sound of an era.
Obnox is no one-trick-pony though and I can’t imagine artists jumping on his shit, sampling the fuck out of his own musical fuckery here. “Cream” rips through with a repetitive sound without being repetitious. The beat is magical, tested time and time again after constant listens. It’s the banger we’re all in search of. That same feeling continues on “40th St Black,” where the explosiveness is accentuated by lyricism and you just know, Obnox got bars!
You’re soon reminded Obnox calls Ohio home, and influences, no matter how subliminal they may be, are raised on “Enter The Hater.” Channeling his inner-Pollard? Quite possible since the melody and rhythm pay ode to English sensibilities. But confounding listeners is what Obnox is about. If anyone thinks they’ve heard it all, listen to what sounds like the Bomb Squad producing Butthole Surfers with “Rally On The Block.” Obnox gives no fucks what anyone thinks because it’s about challenging listeners, creating real art without eschewing the beauty of sound. I’m deep into Bang Messiah and Obnox closes it out with “Fluss,” a variation of the opening track but with more bump to it. You don’t like him? He don’t give a fuck, “You can suck my dick until your nuts fall off!” Yup, no fucks given.