People of the NorthPeople of the North is Kid Millions (drums) and Bobby Matador (keyboard, synth, vocals) of Oneida, and Sub Contra is their Thrill Jockey debut. While their sound, like Oneida’s, is constantly shifting and absorbing new concepts and ideas, Sub Contra is a work that fully embraces tumult and darkness in startling and dramatic ways. People of the North have been an active entity since 2003, but it wasn’t until 2010 with the release of Deep Tissue on their own Brah imprint and Steep Formations, which followed in 2012, that recordings became an important part of the duo’s identity. Sub Contra also features contributions from Shahin Motia and Barry London of Oneida.
Opener “Drama Class” is a combative slice of improvised psychedelia, with Matador’s distorted organ tones providing an understructure for Kid Millions to weave complex drum patterns throughout. “Coal Baron” provides a respite from the discord, with the band droning on Farfisa and Echoplex, nodding to Bo Hansson and Cluster. The “Sub Contra” mini-suite that opens side 2 is an attempt at expressing in sound the Louise Bogan poem of the same name: “Build there some thick chord of wonder/Then, for every passion’s sake/beat upon it till it break.” The 14-minute “Osage Orange”, which closes the album, is an epic slow build and decay, ethereal howls of synthesizer morphing into pulsating beads of sound as Millions dances effortlessly around his kit.
Sub Contra was recorded by the band at The Ocropolis in Brooklyn, mixed by Colin Marston at Menegroth, the Thousand Caves in Queens, and mastered by Josh Bonati in Brooklyn.