without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
To be honest I wish Sunn O))) did nothing but release live albums. If you've seen them live you'll agree that it's definitely the medium in which they excel, and they tend to do less retarded avant garde-ish stuff and more awesome guitar drone when they get the robes and amps out. It's surely not all that hard to record them live in good quality, either; it's not like they're this huge band with a massively complicated set up. Yep, live albums are the way Sunn's stuff should be heard (well, if you can't see them live) and this album is proof of that.
Admittedly the fact that it's on vinyl alone isn't too great (can't put a lot of sub-bass on that medium) but this is an excellent release regardless. It's Sunn at their simplest- deploying massive a-grade drones and riffs that are more cavemen and primitive then ever, and what a glorious racket it is. The theme of the album is reflected aptly in the tunes- from what I've read this was played in a cathedral, and inspired by the despair filled chants that originated from around the time of the black plague- and everything is suitably despair filled and hopeless and whatnot. The inspiration doesn't really filter down to the musical level -short of long sustained tones and a surprising tendency towards consonant intervals there's not really anything that sounds like a Gregorian chant. But I couldn't care less if the concept isn't genuine; Sunn O))) deliver some quality drone here and that's fine by me.
Whether it's Attila's howls (surprisingly in-tune howls, too- who knew this dude could actually sing?) over the droning organ of the first track, the massive, crunching riff of "Cannon"- easily the best Sunn riff ever, I'd say- or the many unsettling juxtaposition of churning electronics, guitar chaos and super long, meditative drones, this whole thing's quite the soundtrack to black plague. It's also unlike the previous marathon live records Sunn have done. Everything is relatively compact- well, none of it gets over 16 and a half minutes, which is a pretty ideal length of a drone tune.
This record isn't terribly complex on any level- the music is simple and there's no high minded statements to be made. And that's exactly what a drone record should be- it's a record that you put on and meditate/trip out/astral travel too. Nothing less, nothing more. This record is extremely good at that, and therefore I suggest you but it if you're a drone fan or looking to get into drone. Points off for the retarded vinyl fandom, though.
Man, do I love drone. Nothing is more suited for soothing a numb mind on a bus trip home after a long day, just lying motionless on the bed staring into a lamp for half an hour with a fuzzy trance permeating the head, or simply just acting as something to listen to when neither music nor silence feel tempting, than a good, skull-crushing, cargo ship-sinking drone juggernaut of a track. I was pretty much hooked the first time Black One ever hit my speakers; I was in a period of getting heavily into ambient, noise, minimalism and the likes, and seeing as my penchant for heavy and brutal music stood its ground, I was destined to get into this music sooner or later.
Usually, I'm a drone purist. I'm far from a drone connoisseur, having only Sunn and Earth albums in my playlist, but I'm a purist nevertheless. By that, I mean that I like my drone clean, unspoilt and devoid of nonsense. Black tsunami waves of relentless, distorted seismic chords, evoked by means of strings, that's what I'm after. I'm talking The Grimmrobe Demos or Earth 2. I sneer at the ridiculous, pretentious LaVey-clone who keeps rambling throughout My Wall, I laugh at the thought of a suit-clad hearse driver munching on french fries at a highway joint while horrified bypassers glance at the manically screaming car on the parking lot outside, and I sigh in exasperation when Merzbow starts banging his head against the piano keyboard in the O)))Bow songs. That's what I mean by purist: I want my drone to be drone, and nothing more. There are, of course, exceptions, certain drone songs mixed with vocals and/or other elements that still had an awesome outcome. Examples are: It Took The Night To Believe, Decay2 (NIHIL'S MAW), and most recently, the Dømkirke album.
I don't think anybody can deny the fact that this is the perfect environment for Sunn O))). As hinted by the Norwegian title of the album, this opus is recorded live in a cathedral. The lineup features O'Malley and Anderson on strings & amps, their good ol' pal Attila Csihar(of Mayhem fame) on vocals, and some guy on the organ, probably Jon Lord. The album consists of 4 tracks, clocking in on roughly 14-15 minutes each. The first track could probably be seen as an intro, with endless, droning organ notes, eventually accompanied by surprisingly forceful and well-pitched Gregorian chant from Attila(clearly, here's one who's had his share of progress since the dying cow imitations of the De Mysteriis title track). However, sometimes the organ and his voice hit separate notes only to correct it immediately, perhaps suggesting that at least the first track is improvised.
The following three tracks are largely pure drone battleships, sparsely decorated with organs, feedback noise, chanting, hissing and whispering, often creating a quite chaotic, eerie and downright twisted atmosphere quite similar to White2. The guitar walls are, in the usual sense, ENO)))RMOUS. Let me get one thing straight: Sunn O))) don't do chord progressions, they do seismic movements. During the 3 or 4 times during a song that they switch chord from drop Y to drop Z, all sorts of images come to your mind; huge continents colliding, Russian oil tankers blowing up, a Bagger 288 shifting gears, or John Goodman dropping out of a plane onto a grand piano. In other words: as good as always.
The thing is; I do generally prefer my drone without complements, but when I picture these two guys in their black cloaks, lifting their roaring guitars towards the high roof of the mighty cathedral, accompanied by the forceful, medieval chanting and organs, conveying naught but death, darkness, plague and hell in a handbasket; it all just makes perfect sense.