Thee Oh Sees


“I lie awake until I sleep, I see the sky tear, and then it weeps,” sings the dangerously prolific bird-of-prey John Dwyer, as sheets of blood-sucking black rainbow arch over Manchester’s Academy 1 and suffocate. The founding-member and primary songwriter of Thee Oh Sees – now simply Oh Sees following a recent exercise in self-erasure, wields his pseudo-carbine from the neck and refuses to let go of the trigger to see through the clouding smoke. Dual drummers Ryan Moutinho and Dan Rincon perform with hive-mind symmetry, as if afraid to break the walls of a shared fantasy – banishing bodies of reverb to the pit beneath them. Primal unknowns spill from the jaws of Dwyer and dark off into monster storm. The night is drunk and with dreams.

It was announced in late-2013 that the band of San Franciscan psychonauts would take an indefinite hiatus, with tour manager Annie Southworth instructing fans to “cross fingers” in hope that it’s not all completely over. In the months following, the band released their fifteenth album. In subsequent years, three full-length albums have followed. The 42-year-old sensory-surgeon and his revolving door of psych-stooges are cursed with a tireless, inescapable fever that grants no respite, and this tirelessness is embodied in the evening’s flurry of sonic sjambok lashes. The earth-shattering ‘Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster’ ivies nameless tracks, pulled from Dwyer’s bottomless chasm of creativity, where ‘Sticky Hulks’ drags you through iridescent sludge until finally burying you in a grave of flesh and bone.

Identifiable lyrics sit second to the jagged tone of Dwyer’s spitting delivery – all menace and feral. Inaudible, sinister shots are fired through the never-ending hallway of ‘Gelatinous Cube’ until finally plunging into the trap of ‘Contraption/Soul Desert’. The fall is broken by the addition of a third drummer in the form of ex-Oh See Mike Shoun, who stacks driving monotony on-top of driving monotony as the strings of three metronomic machines are seemingly pulled by the same hand on the goliath ghost-busting Carrion Crawler/The Dream cut. Time stretches, and the witch-doctor set concludes by drowning you in pools of snake oil — stretching your very fabric, only to pull you to the surface and question your distortion.

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James Musker

Music Journalism student and lover of all things sensory and cosmic.