AMN Reviews: Wyxz – ODYX (2020; Tzadik)

While I’ll admit that I lost touch with modern-day progressive rock a while back, Wyxz’s debut album ODYX probably fits into that broad genre. And chamber rock. And technical metal. And math rock. And it probably could be slapped with a few other labels as well.

The brainchild of composer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Coniguliaro, Wyxz has Coniguliaro playing drums, guitar, bass, piano, keyboard, and glockenspiel. His brother, Quinn, helps out on guitar, bass, and percussion. Matt Stober plays vibes on one track, Alex Verbickas also offers up guitar lines on another, as does Matt Hollenberg (Simulacrum, Cleric, Titan to Tachyons) on two more. But a few listens give the distinct impression that this is a solo project, with Ben Coniguliaro handling the vast majority of the chores.

Having said that, ODYX full of dizzying and never-ending changes in tempo, timing, and theme. Coniguliaro and company navigate labyrinthine riffs and micro-melodies that rarely last more than a few seconds. Keyboards and guitars duel in contrapuntal lines that challenge Zappa’s The Black Page and John Zorn’s short-attention-span moments in complexity. Comparisons can also be made to efforts from Rich Woodson’ Ellipsis and Spastic Ink. There are a few weirder moments, though. For instance, Headweight incorporates distortion on a delay or loop accompanied by less structure guitar effects and feedback.

If anything, the complete over the top nature of ODYX can easily engulf the unprepared listener. But give the album a try or two, as its all-out assault is part of its charm. Yes, there are slower and less knotty interludes here and there, but their duration is never long. Coniguliaro presents nothing less than a workout for both hemispheres of your brain and gets two thumbs extended in an upward direction.

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