Originally written by Ramar Pittance
Holy Shit! Where, am I!? Damn, it’s fucking dark in here! Jesus Christ, what the hell happened! Alright, relax, compose yourself. What is the last thing you remember doing? Okay, I got home from work. Then I threw in that new…. Oh shit! The Sunn O))) album!! Last thing I did was put on that album, and now I’m here. Tired, alone, confused.
I wasn’t prepared for this album. I thought my previous experiences with Goatsblood and Sleep would give me the proper background to tackle a drone album of such monolithic proportions. I was wrong. Sunn O))) makes Sleep sound like Running Wild as performed by Alvin and the Chipmunks. To call this album slow would be the understatement of the year. It’s slow alright, but I’m not sure the dictionary contains an adjective to describe the slothlike tempo at which Sunn O))) trudges through your aural passages. Another misconception one might have is that there are actually any songs on this release. Make no mistake, it’s certainly noise coming out of my speakers at the moment. Songs? Not a chance. It’s ambient noise, set to the pace of your withering consciousness.
The first track, “Hell-0)))-Ween” is most reminiscent of what one may call music. It’s carried by the same riff for about thirteen minutes, while other quaint anomalies snap, crackle and pop in the background. It’s very effective. Played at the proper volumes, this can be a very engaging experience. Greg Anderson (Goatsnake, Thorr’s Hammer) and Stephen O’Malley (Khante, Burning Witch) are veterans of the Drone scene and are adept at creating soundscapes that will engulf the listener. “Hell-0)))-Ween” is an artful demonstration of this skill.
Track two, “bassAliens”, well …. Have you ever watched a nature documentary about cave dwelling spiders on the Discovery Channel? Y’know the ones? Well, the soundtracks to these documentaries were some of the most nightmare inducing compositions I’ve ever heard in my life. They usually consisted of some classically trained musicians going ape-shit on the high end of their viloa’s while the bassist skitters across his strings. “bassAliens” is definite spider documentary fodder. The whole time I was listening to this track the only thing I could imagine was John Facenda narrating the untimely demise of a wayward plecoptera. It creates a mood, I guess, but at this point I’m finding the experience to be more draining than rewarding.
The last leg of the marathon runs through “Decay2 [Nihil’s MAW]” and, now I find it hard to believe I’m sitting through one more track, for the mere sake of letting you the reader know what the hell it sounds like. It pretty much relies on the same aesthetic as the previous tracks, throwing old conventions, like the use of instruments, to the wind and relying purely on what sounds like feed back run though all sorts of effects to create yet more ambient noise. Some monkish chanting appears at about the eight minute mark; this really gets the party cranking. It’s not an easy listen, and despite all the time you’ve sacrificed for this band, they offer zero pay-off. But, I have to give Sunn O))) credit. With each track they create, they have the uncanny ability to somewhat alter my mindset. Whatever thoughts may have previously been running through my head are slowly encompassed by whatever Sunn O))) is doing. And there is something that really must be said for that.
I find it hard to believe that there are certain people out there who can proclaim to “get this” more than others. It’s 65 minutes of noise, and it will effect you in whatever way it pleases. And, no amount of pretension can prevent that. For that, I salute Sunn O))). For all that this band lacks in terms of commonly accepted musical form, this album is very hard to ignore while it is playing.