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Archive for the ‘Sunn O)))’ Category

[ATTENDED: July 30, 2018] My Bloody Valentine

Back in the 1990s I loved My Bloody Valentine.  I can recall checking the racks in Newbury Comics on a weekly basis just to see if there was some kind of follow up to Loveless (this is before the internet told us when things were coming out).  After waiting some 20 years I basically gave up on the band.  When mbv came out, I didn’t even bother listening to it, the hype was so much.

When they announced this tour I wondered whether it was worth going.  But I was assured that they always put on a good show.  I was also warned that it would be loud.  Really loud.  Like, people leaving the theater loud.  It actually made me a little nervous.  They were giving out earplugs at the entrance (which is a good idea for any show, nut especially for this one).

I knew I wouldn’t be there early enough to get too close.  But I’ve learned from past show that being up too close ruins the vocals.  So that was fine.  The crowd was pretty large when we arrived and I wasn’t sure where I wanted to be.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 5, 2018] Thou

I was unfamiliar with Thou before this show.  Reviews were pretty interesting so I was really intrigued to hear them.

Gregory Heaney from All Music wrote “the band’s sound blends the shuddering heaviness of doom with the oppressive atmospherics of black metal, giving the band a monolithic sound that feels, at times, inescapable.”

And nothing could be more accurate.  Thou are loud.  Really loud.  I have seen Sunn O))) who are possibly the loudest band on the planet and Thou was more inescapable.  And I did not find it enjoyable, possibly because I was unprepared.

Musically the band is rather interesting.  They play heavy doom metal, but they have complex (and heavy) chords and riffs–sometimes with the bassist playing counterpoint.  Their riffs were slow, but the notes they played were not always the obvious choice.   (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 18, 2017] Sunn O)))

My friend Lar has been a fan of Sunn O))) for a long time.  Their music is like an ambient death metal–drones and drones of noises with heavy chords played very very slowly.  There’s no drums at all, just beats from the guitars.

And I had heard that their live shows were amazing–louder than anything you’ve ever heard, tons of fog, guys in hoods, and just sonic intensity.  And as soon as I saw that they were playing locally I grabbed a ticket.

I was prepared for the loudest thing I’d ever heard (and brought super great earplugs accordingly).  But I have to say it wasn’t as loud as I was expecting.  I mean, sure it was loud, but I had heard that you could feel it in the pit of your stomach–I was prepared to have to head to the back of the building for the sound waves.  But it wasn’t that loud at all.  On the other hand, it was loud enough that I could feel my nose hairs vibrating, or the cuffs of my pants vibrating.  So that’s pretty loud.  In fact, normally after hearing loud noises, you get a tinnitus ring.  After this show, I had a low throb in my ears for a day after–I’ve never experienced anything like that before.  I’m actually thinking it may have been because the earplugs were in too far.

But aside from that, what was the show like? (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 18, 2017] Big ‡ Brave

I hadn’t heard of Big ‡ Brave when I saw that they were opening for Sunn O))).  Before the show I read this compelling description: “Big Brave utilize many elements of drone, noise, and post rock with female fronted vocals that are almost reminiscent of Bjork as far as tone.”

They play slow and loud.  And their songs are very bass-heavy even though there is no bass!  Two guitars making very low rumbles.

The band is a trio–2 guitars and a fairly sparse drum kit.  Robin Wattie (here’s a video of her singing) stood on the far side of the stage.  She sang an impassioned wail and often kept time by thumping her guitar (generating more drone I’m sure) before playing low, loud chords.

Closest to me was guitarist Mathieu Bernard Ball.  He was constantly in motion, rocking up and down as he played wondrous noises (see video) with his guitar.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SUNN O)))-Flight of the Behemoth (2002).

I hadn’t really heard Sunn O))) until this record (which may not be typical as they collaborated with Merzbow on this one).  I knew that Sunn O))) played loud droney “music.”  And so it is here.  On “Mocking Solemnity” (9 minutes) and “Death Becomes You” (13 minutes) (which meld into each other seamlessly), the songs are mostly slow drones on electric guitar.  The chords are heavy and heavily distorted and they ring out for a few bars–not until the chords die naturally, there is a kind of pacing involved, but for a few bars until the chords are played again (often the same chord).  This is for those who thought Metal Machine Music was too complicated.

On paper this sounds unimpressive (or downright awful, depending) but in reality it is a very physical experience (if played loud enough).

The staticy noise of “Death” melds into track 3 “O))) Bow 1” which adds what sounds like radically modified piano playing a kind of melody.  It’s about 6 minutes and it really changes the tone of the record to suddenly add an atonal racket to the almost calming drone of the bass.  But by the middle of the song, the piano becomes what sounds like a chainsaw.  Merzbow mixed that track and  “O))) Bow 2” which is 13 minutes of the same slow pulsating noise.  It’s not exactly soothing.

The final track is “F.W.T.B.T.” a “remake” of “Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”  I can’t hear a thing that sounds like the original, but that’s what makes a cover interesting.  Although admittedly around the four and a half minute mark there’s some faster chords (for this band anyhow) that could be Metallica-like.  There are also drums (and vocals, although I have no idea what they are saying) on this ten-minute workout.

Not for the faint of heart (or fans of melody).

[READ: November 17, 2012] How to Be Alone

I read most of the articles in this book already.  But I read them over two years ago, so I thought it would be safe to wade into the world of Franzen again.  What I find most interesting about the title of this book is just how many of these articles are about being alone, wanting to be alone or feeling like you are alone.  Obviously that is by design but it seems surprising just how apt the title proved to be, especially given the variety of subjects  his father’s brain, being a novelist, the US Postal Service, New York City.

I’m not going to go into major detail about each article this time, although I am providing a link to the earlier review–my feelings didn’t really change about the pieces (except that from time to time I got a bit exhausted at his…whininess?  No, not that exactly…maybe his persecution complex.  But I will give a line summary about each one just to keep everyone up to speed.  The four pieces that I hadn’t read before I will give a few more words about.

One overall feeling is that when Franzen isn’t writing about the state of the novel (which he is very passionate about) his articles are well researched well documented which is kind of surprising given the state of panic he seems to be in the novel articles.  It’s also kind of funny how out of touch these articles seem (some are almost 20 years old and are kind of laughably outdated), but it’s also funny to see how poorly his predictions panned out.  The death of the novel is rather overrated (just see the success of his own Freedom.

So the book contains: (more…)

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[WATCHED: March 19, 2011] Until the Light Takes Us

Soon after finishing Lords of Chaos, I heard a radio interview on the Sound of Young America with the directors of this movie (which is about the same black metal scene in Norway).  I finally got around to watching the film, and I’m really glad I did.

It covers much of the same terrain as Lords of Chaos (although the book covers much more stuff), but what’s cooler about the movie is actually seeing these guys talk to you.  And seeing how “normal these guys are.”  The two “stars” of the movie are Fenriz from Darkthrone and the main man in the scene, Varg Vikerens.

In the radio interview, the directors talked about the way they structured the film. And, I’ll reveal a bit of that.  So if you don’t know this particular fact, I’ll give the next line as a spoiler alert:

SPOILER ALERT: (Highlight the blank space to read it) Varg is in jail for murder and for the burning of several churches and was sentenced to 21 years in prison.

They don’t reveal this information until very late in the film.  So when we first meet Varg, he is a clean cut, handsome man in his late 30s.  He is in jail (although not explicitly stated, it is clear he is in jail).  And he is talking about the Norwegian black metal scene.  Vikerens formed the band Burzum in 1991.  He later joined the band Mayhem.

Mayhem is at the center of the black metal controversy.  The singer of Mayhem, Dead, killed himself with a shotgun.  The guitarist Euronymous found him and took pictures of him (one of which was used as a bootleg album cover–ewww) before calling the police (and it is believed he took some “souvenirs” from the scene).

Vikerens talks about growing up in idyllic Norway, which is peaceful and beautiful–but he undermines all of that by talking about the fairly typical suburban ennui that kids face.  Of course, in Norway it surfaced in violence and death.   Later, he talks about Christianity and how when it came into Norway there was no respect for the Norwegian culture.  Christians built churches on top of ceremonial grounds.  And it seems that he and his mates became very interested in Norwegian folklore and avenging the wrongs done to it. (more…)

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