John Dwyer – ‘Gong Splat’ review: prolific Osees frontman gets stuck in middle gear

The maverick indie musician has delivered a chaotic improv album that, despite some thrilling moments, ultimately hits a cul-de-sac

Osees leader John Dwyer is back with yet another album – his fourth solo project on top of the 20-odd he’s already recorded with his day band. In recent years, he’s churned out solid if somewhat bonkers records under his ever changing Osees monikers (OCS, The Oh Sees, Thee Oh Sees, Oh Sees – take your pick) including last year’s space-age, prog-rock effort ‘Protean Threat’ and 2018’s ‘Smote Reverser’, which – aside from its excessive noodling – was wildly impressive.

‘Gong Splat’, his latest instrumental, improvised solo album is, as followers of his work will have come to expect by now, a record filled with a wall full of fuzzy white noise that veers and clatters around like a wild Catherine wheel spinning out of control.

Last year, Dwyer laid our his restless modus operandi for punk site Louder Than War: “I think it’s important to grow… I have a pretty short attention span… so I like to move around a bit, but we still have the confines of our abilities and our general sound… You’ll find those same sounds in there, just sort of assembled in a different way.” Like The Fall, Dwyer regularly releases records that are the same – but impressively different from his own and others’ output.

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The opening title track rattles along with arrhythmic drum patterns and stabbing space effects, the result an erratic jazz jam. This unfortunately is the blueprint for much of the rest of the record, aside from a couple of songs – most notably ‘Anther Dust’, which comes on like a haunting sci-fi horror soundtrack, with its eerie synths and whirring space effects, and the swirling ‘Hypogeum’, whose trippy beats suck you in like a psychedelic black hole.

Other than that, it’s a pretty difficult listen, with the likes of the over bloated ‘Yuggoth Travel Agency’ filled with the same chaotic drum patterns and screechy noises that have dominated the album thus far – only this time for a whole nine minutes. Then there’s the crashing squall that is ‘Minor Protocides’, a chaotic number that, even at one-minute-a-half-minutes, is 90 seconds too long.

The tracks that work on this album would fit perfectly on a spooky science fiction soundtrack, but the remaining songs really drag the collection down. Dwyer is notorious for his handbrake turns and his wildly diverse records, but on ‘Gong Splat’ it sounds as if he’s stuck in the same, predictable, clattering gear.

Details


Release date: December 17
Record label: Castle Face Records

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