John O’Neill – Cine/Hollywood Tow
9.19.22 by Matty McPherson
Earlier this year the Tabs Out East Coast CEO went ahead and premiered a novel invention for noise practitioners. A simple paper sheet, designating set time lengths and genre variation, that should help the scene with schedule organization and variations. At the local noise coffee shop where I frequent, all the trendy noiseniks have been hailing the invention as a boon, the thing that will start an earnest dialogue about what the perfect set length is. We all want this. Admit it, you do too.
I suppose though that there will always be artists that can subvert the need for such paper sheets by sheer talent. The ones who internally understand that when their piece is done, well it is done and no sheet will designate otherwise. John O’Neill is one such fella with a finger on the pulse there. The LA-based artist has remained uncollected for quite a while, that is until Hot Releases finally made a cold call and copitulated to a perfect “no fat or lean” C28 back in January. Cine / Hollywood Tow is 3 whip-smart variations on a theme: “meditative yet solitarily vibing” more or less. Exactly how it is to be achieved comes through the three live performances that make it clear there is no singular manner to the endeavor.
Side A is completely dominated by “Backyard at Zoey & Craig’s 5/27/21”, which finds O’Neill quickly digging into towards stateless, “open-zone” ambient. There’s nary an undercurrent of brooding anger or simmering rage gestating within the just-shy of 15 minutes performance. Ponderous, brisk synth fog, mousy electronic squeals, and small haptics drone into a Pacific Northwest night walk; low to the ground, deep in the soil–chilled and billed. Even a crow that makes a brilliant stage debut; enough that made me turn my back to check if the garage was open. As the piece draws up, a strange sudden quivering pulse comes through, as it to foreshadow the b-side.
Two tracks here on side-b are wisely cut new adventures down in LA. The UCLA-recorded experiment, 69.000.1 startles at first with the change up in palette. O’Neill still finds comfort in abrasive droning textures and sine wave low frequency oscillation. At piercing volumes, it takes me back to anti-gravity rides at the county fair as much as those dreaded “room of mirrors.” Soon though, we’re inside a wild chainsaw demolition derby in Los Angeles with Station to Station (AM Band). Bouts of generator noise, radio hellscape noise, and evil robot blacksmith” field recording noise all intermingle into a playful final boss form. Yet as time moves, a pulsing drum beat moves to the forefront as the noise drone decays. It’s a fusion that provides the industrial strength backbone and excitement. His noise bashes become more smart bomb-oriented. They honk and wail, even sputtering like a Squidward robot trying to fire off lasers or an arcade machine that wants to offer free change. It never bores over its 11 minute run-time; perfect length from what all the noiseniks are saying at the coffee shop.
It was only released 8 days into this year; sadly sold out for a long time but perhaps not a long time?