Words: Laura Turnbull | Header Image: Conner Lyons
In 1971 Eddie Hazel walked into the recording studio and got told to imagine his mother had just died. He picked up his guitar and wailed out the sublime, distortion-drenched screecher of a title track to Funkadelic‘s psychedelic monolith of an album ‘Maggot Brain’. Who the hell knows what John Dwyer‘s stage directions were when Oh Sees sat down to record ‘Face Stabber’. We can only guess it had something to do with sticking his head inside a shark tank and making friends with a giant, grinning staircase of teeth. “I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe,“ goes Funkadelic‘s doom-booming prophecy. Well, turns out Oh Sees have too, and they kinda liked the taste.
When Alice fell down the rabbit hole she struck a few outlying roots on the descent. It sounded a bit like frazzled guitar strings and warped snare wires boomeranging through a bent funnel of electrified bleeps and wahs. Boo-hoos blistered by a defective effects pedal. And maybe when she reached the bottom of the dark tunnel Terence McKenna was there too, warbling about mushrooms. Light relief. We’re talking psychedelia, but smashed through a cheese grater. Welcome to Oh Sees land.
“Hey there, human kids, lift your face out of the feed trough and pluck that feculence from your ears.” Wave back, it’s just John Dwyer‘s killer-clown way of introducing ‘Face Stabber’ to listeners. Happy days. This music is weird, but the world is weirder, and Dwyer knows it. “Grab a shard and cover me in cuts/We’ve got worms swimming in our guts,” go the gruesome lyrics to ‘Heartworm’ and Oh Sees howl ’em out with glee. Truly gross and absolutely delicious.
Like the swamp demon that decorates the front cover of ‘Face Stabber’, this album is a murky shapeshifter. It drifts into vintage psych-rock vibes for ‘Snickersee’, drills that ol’ “dystopia-punk” into your brain via ‘Heartworm’ and even dips into the robot-pocket of krautrock for the squelchy electronics that adorn ‘The Daily Heavy’. Music goo incarnate. Journey through the whole album and you’re rewarded with ‘Captain Loosley’, a pulsing, heart-piercing soundscape. ‘Face Stabber’ is disturbing, and it is beautiful too. Aristotle knew what he was talking about when he coined the tragicomedy. Oh Sees have delivered a don’t-let-the-bastards-grind-you-down delight like the genre-bending lunatics they are. “The internet has deemed guitar music dead and you are free to do whatever the fuck you like…long live the new flesh!” Oh Sees ftw.
Listen to ‘Captain Loosley’ from ‘Face Stabber‘:
Find Oh Sees, find ’em good: