[sic] Magazine

Osees – Panther Rotate

And so the 23rd Oh Sees, Osees (etc.) album swiftly becomes their 24th, Panther Rotate a wildly remixed take on this year’s very decent Protean Threat LP, that same OCS sound, but “beamed in from another dimension” as frontman John Dwyer himself confesses.

Truth be told though, the experimental Panther Rotate – a retreat into proggy kosmiche – is barely even recognisable as an Osees album, never mind as a companion to Protean Threat, a heavily mutated take on their trademark rhythms and cosmic garage. It’s consequently not an essential stopping post on the journey that is Dwyer’s ever-evolving sound, rather a simple exercise in contrast, the originals dismembered and reconfigured by beings with only a cursory understanding of the contemporary musical canon. Some tracks are discernible by partial title similarity and shared vocal parts, others having evolved into entirely different species.

Being experimental does, of course, sometimes yield results though. Parts of the more consistent and enjoyable Protean Threat nevertheless felt dialled in; Panther Rotate by comparison almost always has you on edge. “Scramble Experiment”, for example, is stripped of its ferocity to become some rhythmic inquest held by outer-rings tribesmen. “Toadstool Experiment” later replaces its wah-fired stomp with an undulating groove and squelching pads, Dwyer getting mischievous over the top. The closest thing to a hit that Panther Rotate has to offer, “If I Had An Experiment” then treats the catchy vocal of the original to massive echo, blown-out static and electro pulses challenging real kit rhythms and drawn-out sci-fi FX.

“Terminal Experiment” is one of those that becomes entirely unrecognisable, its manic multi-tracking of pops and gurgles devolving like disintegration loops into nothing but static. In turn, “Miz Experiment” takes the faithful AI training material of its original that then pumped back some predictable riffs and now goes rogue with zapping synths and clipped oscillations before falling off the spool entirely. “Gong Experiment” pulses away to a breathy vocal loop, spidery guitar picking over the bones of the original, Dwyer dropping in for some skeletal funk to close.

The rest of Panther Rotate is filled out with relatively simple spaceship-console chatter, scratchy instrumentals, field capture and muffled poetry. Consequently, not even God knows what to make of Dwyer’s current trajectory and his inner workings, his synapses here misfiring as often as they come good. And, just think, there’ll be nothing to hold him back at all when he hits the uncharted territory.

Best track: “If I Had An Experiment”

~Panther Rotate is released November 13th 2020 via Castle Face.~