(Self-released, digital download)
In my Seven Days review of Phase One, the 2014 debut from Plattsburgh's Our Holy Orgasmic Cosmic Rays, I suggested there might be little cause for anxiety over what the anti-supergroup had in store for their next record, then presumed to be Phase Two. That was because, while patently fucked up, the record was also pleasantly fucked up in its own way.
Though deranged even by experimental pop and rock standards, the record bore a certain juvenile charm that made its madness less intimidating or scary for unsuspecting ear holes. Though not for the faint of heart, the record actually marked the most conventionally accessible work to date from OHOCR's primary architect, Chris Rigsbee, previously known for his gloomy, dark-matter-dense work as Adrian Aardvark.
It turns out I was both right and wrong in my prediction for OHOCR's follow-up. Released in mid-February, the new record is indeed dubbed Phase Two. That's where I was right. Where I was wrong: Be afraid. Be very afraid.
In a recent email to Seven Days, Rigsbee describes the record as "probably the weirdest release so far." I assume he means that in relation to his own music. Though if he means it's probably the weirdest release so far in, like, the entirety of recorded music history, he might not be so far off the mark, either. It's pretty damn strange.
Witness album opener "Aura Explorer." Built around a menacingly plodding three-note, grime-covered bass and drum progression, and decorated with all manner of unhinged sounds man-made and otherwise, this is what might happen if James Kochalka went on a crystal-meth bender and rewrote the theme song from "Dora the Explorer."
The twisted but ultimately harmless sexual humor that softened the mangled mania of Phase One is evident on Phase Two, as well. For example, "Loomis." Over a fun-house-mirror version of an R&B ballad, Rigsbee sings in his unsettlingly hollow timbre, "Nipples are so sensitive, they start sharing their feelings. / There is more to relationships than sexual healing." Your move, Marvin Gaye.
That demented whimsy emerges in various forms throughout. There is the fat-bottomed derangement of "Handsome Doo Doo" and the fearsome but (I think) sarcastic lechery of "Get You Drunk." There is the speaker-shattering experiment in phasing that is "Glitch Gremlin." And then there's my personal favorite, the instrumental sci-fi punk cut "Death Rides a Pale Duck," which I can't help but feel was somehow inspired by the 1980s cult flick Howard the Duck.
In truth, Phase Two isn't that much more terrifying than was Phase One. But with a band like OHOCR, it's a slim margin. With unrepentant, berserk glee, Rigsbee and co. not only willfully ignore that margin, they practically vomit all over it, presumably just so they can binge again.
Rigsbee notes that Phase Three is about one month away from being spawned, er, released. In the meantime, Phase Two by Our Holy Orgasmic Cosmic Rays is available at here.