without Internet Explorer,
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Not a patch on the previous album "Flight of the Behemoth" though to be fair that album was a hard act to follow and after a few spins "White1" does have a certain charm of its own. Melody, changes in key and other conventional music elements aren't important here: atmosphere and mood take prominence. On this album also, texture becomes a dominating feature: the guitars are rough and the earth-shaking rumbles are sure to impress listeners deeply, being reminiscent of flashes of lightning and the thunder that follows. The ambience is almost but not quite sinister in feel.
Julian Cope's lyrics on "My Wall" may make some people cringe but he's a witty and erudite gentleman whose writing (if the lyrics are at all representative) is far beyond the level we usually see in many published novels these days let alone the level of popular and underground music. His spoken voice delivery takes up only the first half of the track. I'm sure that after 20-plus years the lyrics won't look half as fruitcake as Robert Plant's lyrics on the Led Zeppelin number "Stairway to Heaven" and look at the reverence many people still give to that song.
Let's continue ... "The Gates of Ballard" features part of a traditional Norwegian folk poem "Haavard Hedde" chanted in Norwegian by Runhild Gammalsaeter, a long-time associate of the Sunn0))) men since the mid-1990s when she fronted Thorr's Hammer (she is now a biologist with a PhD in cell physiology and heads a biotechnology company in Norway). The music is a fairly smooth ride with a steady chugging guitar and a programmed rhythm sequence. The poem is about a man, Haavard, who establishes a farm, marries and has a couple of kids, and grows a tiny forest of two pine trees. Anyone who wishes to know what the fella does to the pine trees can visit this website address: http://www.darklyrics.com/lyrics/storm/nordavind.html#3.
On "A Shaving of the Horn that Speared You", Sunn0))) throw away the usual heavy metal elements for a formless tone piece with bits of acoustic guitar, and vocal and various other effects that simulate breathing or sleeping. Al the elements barely hang together with sounds on the edge of the barely audible though if you pay very close attention you'll discover a lot of humming and very soft moaning. The track could have been made slower and the amount of acoustic guitar reduced to make for a more menacing piece.
Perhaps not one of the Sunn0))) men's better efforts but the duo are to be commended for not taking themselves too seriously here.
An original version of this review was written for The Sound Projector (Issue 12, 2004) which has now gone out of print.
I remember when I first picked this up. I had no idea what White1 would sound like, but seeing as how I was a die-hard fan of Black One, among a few other releases before that, I knew I had to at least give this one a try. I'm glad I did, but this release definitely isn't for everyone. I'm not even sure every fan of Sunn O))) would enjoy this. But it is definitely something different.
Upon listening to White1 for the first time, I had no idea what to expect, other than their classic drone-and-groan feedback style soundscapes. This release has that, but it is interwoven between 3 completely different tracks - the first, "My Wall", is a 25 minute-long dronescape featuring a rather peculiar poem, read by none other than British songwriter/musician Julian Cope. This song really absorbs your attention as you wait for the next line of his poem to be said aloud atop the droning guitars, which bleed out over and over, into what seems like forever.
The second of the three tracks, "The Gates of Ballard", is a very interesting 15 minute track. Starting off creepy ambiance, it follows with a folk song sung by Runhild Gammelsæter of Thorr's Hammer, another project from doom masters Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson. Some feedbacky guitar begins, and riffs start to pour in stoner metal like tone accompanied by a drum machine. The track alternates between this and more drone guitars.
The last track, "A Shaving of the Horn that Speared You", is unlike any song from Sunn O))) I've heard. Guitars that drone in....drone out.... and repeat. Mix that with some creepy background effects and you've got yourself a rather unnerving song. This one clocks in at 17 minutes. It is the only one on the album not to use drones and feedback as a primary playing style.
As I said earlier, this album is not for every Sunn O))) fan. Mainly, this is because this album does not focus entire on the staple blaring drones and sludgy feedback like previous and later albums. This one is a journey into the unknown and often strange realm of experimentation. So if you're into Sunn O)))'s straightforward style of loud, blackened sound, you might like this one. My only problem with it is that it only consists of three tracks, which is typical for some Sunn's releases, but for me it didn't capture that haunting atmosphere that Black One did, so it left me wanting something. And, seeing as how there are only 3 songs here, I wasn't sure what to think, so I gave them another go. But in all honesty, I really do enjoy this album, as I do all of the doom masters' work. If you wanna take a chance on a rather strange album, this is the one for you.
I'm a huge drone fan, but for some reason, I've never been a huge fan of Sunn O))). The guitars don't really strike me like those of, say, Boris, or even any of SOMA's side-projects do. When they took a little walk on the wild side (away from the sound they're more known for in Flight of the Behemoth and 00 Void), however, things got a lot more interesting.
Of course, numerously throughout most bands' careers, they get a bit weary of the same sound over and over and are tempted to experiment with different sounds. The ones that succeed most often are the ones that add some something a little different, but stay true to their original sound. Sunn O))) succeeded massively in this respect. As opposed to the pure guitar/bass sound (aside from a small exception) found in their earlier records, White1 appears to be experimenting with more vocals and drums and even completely stepping away from distortion in the final track (GASP!). The result is definitely rewarding.
The first track starts right off the bat with Julian Cope reading some occultist poetry with some droning in the background. After a rather lengthy (the epic kind, not the boring kind) and spine-tingling recitation, the guitars step out from behind Cope's repeated "Stand in the thrall, stand in the thrall, stand in the thrall of my wall!" and begin droning not all different from the early records. The atmosphere seem much more complete than ever before.
We progress to the second track, The Gates of Ballard, which again features vocals. This time, however, they are done with the superbly talented Runhild Gammelsaeter of one of O'Malley's former bands, Thorr's Hammer. Her talent doesn't show very well, as it sounds almost like the vocals were recorded into a tin can, which almost seems like the band was trying to achieve a black metal level of kvltness in this song. After she's done, there's a bit more droning, but with drums. This has to be the closest to traditional drone the band has, to this day, gotten. I feel like Scott Weinrich's gonna jump in for a third unexpected collaboration. The drums stop, and the guitars keep going for another six minutes. If I were to choose a weakest track, this would be it, but it's far from bad.
The third and final track is definitely the most experimental, with a much more peaceful (but still extremely dissonant) atmosphere replacing the burdensome and bass-laden tracks of earlier on the album and Sunn O)))'s career. This is also the only track without vocals. The atmosphere here is amazing, with a steady pulsating ambiance that builds up into the cathartic strum of a guitar, sans-distortion. The guitars are manually de-tuned as they're being played, which adds a creepiness unparalleled in modern metal. If this track doesn't convince you of the devil's existence, nothing will.
Buy this record even if you have to sell their first two.
When a band deemed weird experiments with there sound only there devoted fan base really notices it, everyone else just groups it with there other stuff because to them it’s all just weird. I have been a Sunn O))) fan for a while now but I only recently got back intro drone and there music, now I worship the ground they walk on. If you’re a Sunn fan you probably hold White1 in some regard, however this album is defiantly experimental in any sense and while good should be avoided by anybody who doesn’t have some understanding with the band other than “there weird”.
With that out of the way I can begin. Musically we get a fair amount of material to work with just under an hour. “A Shaving of the Horn that speared you” is a standard drone track with little of the “experimentation” everybody talks about when they mention this album so ill let you make your own assumptions about it, if you liked Flight of the Behemoth you will get into this, no vocals no drumming only riffs and heaviness.
“My Wall” is actually my favorite song on here. It isn’t the same guitar feedback stuff on there previous albums, it’s more of a different kind of atmosphere. There standard elements are present but they add in some other elements, like lighter guitar notes and of course Julian Cope reading some text thing which from what I gather is a very long description of Sunn O)))’s sound, as well as there philosophical of there sound and how no matter what happens they will always just play on no matter what happens.
“The Gates of Ballard” is the only real letdown; from just about everything it could be it is simply a dead doom dinosaur. Runhild’s reunion with Anderson and O’Malley lasts about all of two minutes seeing as she chants something in what I am assuming is Japanese then just leaves and seeing as the chance to hear some of her vocal work again was the only reason I bought this as opposed to there rereleased demo. Afterwards we get to hear some actual doom, and I do mean actual doom, Sunn O))) tries to actually put something recognizable in there stuff. Besides some very stale drum programming we get some of traditional doom (or stoner doom, even though I think they sound similar) riffs, which under a blanket of there usual distortion sound so out of place I can’t get into it. The only thing that can ruin a drone atmosphere is actual elements, when I put on a Sunn album I don’t want to have to think about anything, I just want to sit there and let the atmosphere suck me. Sadly this doesn’t do to the same effect as the other two tracks.
Layout wise it’s the usual abstract artwork that graces anything before BlackOne, bunch of photos and other stuff that in contrast to the music makes a nice extra but nothing too special. I usually fiddle around with the booklet and stuff while listening to the music (unless I am reading or something) so there isn’t much in the way of information here, which while being one less distraction from the atmosphere really just wastes paper.
If you are looking for a place to start out with the band I can’t emphasize how vital checking out another album is. Track one is when a bands experiments on there sound turn out good, track two is weak and a very big letdown, track three is the usual safe track so people actually buy the album, it’s good but could just fit into another album nicely. In closing I say this, listen to at your own risk, you get a general idea of there sound but sadly this album doesn’t fully showcase there world nor there full atmosphere.
Sunn's first few albums were pure drone, but like many bands, you get bored of playing similar stuff again and again. This album is where Sunn O))) started getting more experimental, and while some parts work quite well, there's a few great drone riffs that are ruined by some poor choices.
The first song is a really good example of this. THe guitar work is really good.. It's kind of ambient, but it's really damn heavy, and has some of the most powerful drones you've ever heard. It would be a great song.. If Julian Cope didn't spend the whole time reciting poetry over it. The lyrics are actually fairly bonkers and cool, but they really ruin the mood, and it's a shame, because we have here a really good drone songs.
The next song is another case in point. The guitars are extremely muddy and bass heavy.. It's definitely the bassiest song Sunn O))) have ever done, and that's quite impressive. Even at a fairly tame volume it still makes your chest vibrate. Unfortunately, these mighty, bassy drone riffs share the song with some really inappropriate drum machine programming, which comes and goes, just for maximum annoyance. Though I will concede that these riffs have a bit more momentum then most Sunn riffs, surely they could have used a better drum machine. Still, it's a good song, with the huge riffs and sheer bassiness (It is really bassy!!! Let me emphasize that!) making up for the terrible drum machine.
Finally, the last song shows how it should be done. This isn't as outside the box as the first two songs (No drums and vocals, for a start). It's a cleanier, eerier version of that typical sunn drone. Kind of like HEX-era Earth playing with Sunn O))). This isalso extremely bassy, but more in the way of 'really, really low notes' then just sub bass in the production. The other reviewer mentioned it was played on keyboards, and that's quite likely.. As it would be pretty hard to down tune a bass that much. It's a big change from the distorted drones of the first two songs, but it's quite good nonetheless.
It's a shame, this album. The 3rd song is quite good, and the first two would be awesome.. If it wasn't for poor decisions made. I'd love to hear My Wall and The Gates of Ballard live though, as without Julian Cope and the drum machine, they would both sound pretty damn good.
To be honest, I don’t really know that much about Sunn O))). I don’t really know what the MEAN. I don’t really UNDERSTAND them. I don’t even know that much about what I think about them. But I know I like ‘em, and although this isn’t my fave Sunn O))) album, I think I know a fair bit about what I think about this album (I think). That is, the first song is great, the last song is good and the second song is pants.
YES. IT’S THAT SIMPLE. AND YET ITS NOT.
The first song, My Wall has former bonkers pop-star and now full time bonkers weird musician and antiquarian (?) Julian Cope reciting a huge poem about a bunch of stuff that I don’t know about or understand over maybe Sunn O)))’s heaviest but ambient-est-est track yet. It’s the kind of stuff that makes you think they’re on about some cool stuff here that you wouldn’t mind understanding, but that would require more effort that just repeatedly listening to the song. So FUCK THAT. Just convince yourself that by doing so you’re learning. I think 90% of what I think I know I don’t really know, I tricked myself into thinking I knew about it by listening to records over and over and THINKING (I think).
Track 2 would probably be decent if it wasn’t for the useless drum-machine percussion. The last time I checked this song didn’t have the words “Nose”, “Spite”, “Face” or “Cutting Off” in the title but for a band with usually no drums, that’s what I always think of when I hear this track. Maybe there’s a hidden meaning somewhere. Maybe Julian Cope covered this is the first track. Either way, IT SOUNDS SHITE.
Track 3 is called “A Shaving of the Horn That Speared You”, another song title I don’t understand. I get the feeling this one is down to me being thick as shit rather than them being super-intelligent though. Anyway, this is another unique one in the Sunn O))) cannon, as its supposedly played solely on keyboards. Presumably other than (WHAT I THINK ARE) the guitars you can hear now and again. Good stuff though, the keybeards are obviously able to do much deeper stuff than guitars so low end on this is unreal. It hurts my throat if I don’t sit up properly.
Which is maybe a good line to end this review on.