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Abstract, minimalist template for future Sunno))) - 95%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, April 14th, 2012

This second album by Sunn0))) is available as a 2012 reissue together with the reworked version by Nurse With Wound. For me it's a great abstract work and the template on which future Sunn0))) work builds. It may be very doomy and sinister for many, even most people but I find a relaxing, comforting element in it: perhaps it's the never-ending repetition of the drone riffs or the epic nature of the thick grinding guitar textures, that encourages me to feel that way. The influence of Earth as it was in the early 1990s is very strong here and reminds us that Sunn0))) originally formed as an Earth tribute band: the reference point for "00 Void" is Earth's "2" album which features very long tracks of repetitive riff loops and constant background noise texture.

The reliance on super-low bass frequencies is obvious throughout the album, especially on the first track "Richard" which is dominated by a repetitive loop of one swooping note followed by a stationary note, over and over, while guitar feedback quivers in the background. This is Sunn0))) at their most glacial and monumental: two over-used adjectives, I know, but relevant in this case. The rest of the album can seem fussy by comparison.

"NN0)))" might be seen as a further development on "Richard" in that the loop has more notes but it's still a highly repetitive piece with just that loop and another drone in the background providing a lighter, more delicate counterpoint. The loop does change when you least expect it to and that in itself might encourage you to pay more attention in case there are more subtle changes. Sure enough, we're rewarded about the ninth minute when the song adds extra rumble and the riff changes, and the whole elaborate edifice suddenly looks (or rather sounds) even bigger, more ziggurat-like, with ten extra storeys of concrete slab and dark over-arching endless corridors on top. The track dissipates after the 11th minute and becomes an apparent "mess" of drones and rumbles holding to each other precariously.

The Melvins homage "Rabbits' Revenge" is as quietly malevolent and atmospheric as Sunn0))) gets with that intimidating and maddeningly repetitive bass loop that continues through the track while near-industrial guitar drones weave evil magic around it. Interestingly there's a poppy sing-along sample with a tinny tambourine in the distant background; might that be something of the original Melvins version snuck in there for a laugh? Listeners might be forgiven for thinking they're hallucinating but I assure you the sample is there.

For a brief time "Ra at Dusk" throws the focus onto the guitar feedback that so far has been the quiet partner to the droning riffs on this album. Compared to previous tracks this threatens to be a real roaring track and sometimes I wish it had been so - but Sunn0))) bring this savage beast to a calmer plane of existence and there it stays, majestic in its layers of booming bass drone. The track really picks up near the end where it descends into an abyss like a giant condor just shot down - a clever way to end the album.

Emphasis here is on plunging the listener into a universe ruled by drone and guitar feedback, generating its unique and sometimes wondrous soundscapes, so traditional metal elements like percussion, melody and song structures get short shrift or are left out altogether. Improvisation is important as well. Having said that, I'd recommend this album for people new to Sunn0))) as it's the foundation for what the band would do later and it's an excellent example of how minimalism as a concept (the use of repetition to sustain a piece of music, forcing listeners to pay attention to the texture of the sound, among other things) can be applied to metal and make it as abstract and experimental as other genres of music like musique concrete, noise and free improv.