People of the North isn't so much an Oneida splinter group or side project, instead it is probably wiser to think of it as an entity that exists and complements the parent group.

In case you don't already know, People of the North is Kid Millions and Bobby Matador of Oneida, on drums and synths respectively, and although they have existed since 2003, they haven't recorded or released much of their work. Sub Contra is their Thrill Jockey debut, following on from Deep Tissue and Steep Formations on their own Brah label.

As any fan of Oneida knows, the band is synonymous with The Ocropolis, their studio/performance space in the basement of the Monster Island arts building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Built by the band and their friends in 2005, The Ocropolis has nurtured recordings from the likes of Black Dice, Trans Am, White Hills and of course Oneida. I mention it not just because this People of the North album was recorded there, but because Sub Contra would dovetail well into any extended Oneida jam, a fact underlined by the presence of guests Shahin Motia and Barry London, also of Oneida.

You could file the five tracks that make up Sub Contra under "ambient noise" and although the synth sequences pulsate, the powerful drum patterns are often arrhythmic and improvised.

'Drama Class' begins with an aggressive rumble and crackle of distortion, whilst Mr Millions skirts his way around the toms. Then it drifts into a snaking melody line played on what I assume is a heavily distorted organ. It seems to tease us that it is building to a peak, but in fact it just changes emphasis, and after a few minutes the drums dominate before they give way to the drone and trance of feedback which concludes the track.

If 'Drama Class' was a piece of noise improv to rival the likes of the Dead C, then 'Coal Baron' is a drifting drone-based synth piece more in the vein of Krautrock legends like Popul Vuh or Cluster. Here the synths pulse ever so slowly as the percussion takes a back seat.

'Sub Contra 1&2' are two relatively shorter pieces, with edgier synths pushing both high and low frequencies, and hard-hitting drums are crucial.

'Osage Orange' is the longest piece here at 14 minutes, and it encompasses all the sounds explored on the rest of album, yet ramps up the intensity. This definitely sounds like more than two players at work, as synths pulsate and drift and distort, and the drums skitter around the beat or hit you hard with a machine gun like peal. The last minute of this is simply the quiet but warm crackle of an analogue keyboard, as if the dust is settling.

Sometimes attention wanders as they drift too far into a fuzzy trance, and they are unlikely to appeal to anyone that doesn't like Oneida, but ultimately Sub Contra is an interesting addition to that band of musicians' relentless and prolific output.