Upon first listen of the new record by prolific polyonymous psych outfit fronted by John Dwyer, I wondered if I had forgotten to switch my turntable’s belt setting from 45 rpms back to 33. Truly, I almost pulled up the platter to check until I realized I could simply enter my download code and check the digital version to confirm that the sonic speed and fury was happening in real-time. In my defense, the muzzle flash that is the opening track, “Scramble Suit II” sounds as if you’d dropped the needle mid-track and caught the band full pelt, raging through a section of a larger blistering arc.
Protean Threat, the twenty-third album under the umbrella of Dwyer and the (ˈ)ō ˈsēz, tracks a plenty at 13 but efficiently so at under 40 minutes. Harkening back to the days of strawberries and teeth, Protean Threat often recalls the 10 track 40 minute fan favorite album Floating Coffin released in 2013. New for 2020 however, is yet another permutation to the band’s name, this time efficiently essentialized as “Osees”. Regardless of the name change, their sound and ferocity remain consistent.
As previously mentioned, the opening track “Scramble Suit II” opens the album like a tilting train emerging full bore from a mountain tunnel. Slowing only occasionally to accommodate Dwyer’s fever dream lyrics sung in wobbly falsetto and punctuated by Tomas Dolas’ (a.k.a Mr. Elevator) psychedelic organ blasts, the track feels like a pandemic era DMT fueled reinterpretation of Willy Wonka’s Tunnel of Terror. Speed aplenty and with pounding syncopations from drumming duet Paul Quattrone and Dan Rincon, “Dreary Nonsense”, “Persuaders Up!”, and “Terminal Jape” test the limits of gravity and pull the wheels from the track as frequent hazardous changes abound.
While there are few respites for the Frisco 5 on Protean Threat, there are a few tracks recalling the hallucinatory psychosis of A Weird Exits and An Odd Entrances. The eerie pitch bends on “Red Study” interspersed with Dwyer’s Vincent Price-esque delivery turns the track into a cut from a B-Movie horror film soundtrack.
I drink 7 Up
I smoke CBD
I’m gonna teach you how to be
A fuckin’ fool for free
“Said The Shovel” opens with a wolf’s howl, recalling the dark dank sonic narrows that defined the pair of 2016 releases. “Upbeat Ritual” follows suit offering imagery of cold stone cut from primitive tools and beasts of a mythical past.
With its distinctive Arabian inspired riffs “Gong of Catastrophe” departs Nosferatu’s cavernous hallways and chambers for the open air markets of the Middle East. Lyrically the song may draw parallels to the oppressive regimes often found in that part of the world but to those residing stateside, it will likely hit closer to home with imagery of police brutality and autocratic rule that has come to define our current epoch.
Fuzzed out dope hazed “Mizmuth” and “Toadstool” linger low and heavy with squinted eyes and frayed Vestibulocochlear nerves. Jam and boogie, keep a head nodding and a foot atapping to “Wing Run”, “If I Had My Way” and “Canopnr ‘74” while Persuaders Up! Drive home the pummeling stake of pulse and fury. There’s no way to escape the twisted chrome ruins that is the tonal car crash of an album that one simply cannot take one’s eyes off of. You’ve been warned now ogle and rubberneck your way into aural oblivion.