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Impressive, but not very fun - 70%

MasterOfDissonance, May 17th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2011, 2 12" vinyls, Ideologic Organ (Gatefold, double vinyl)

Right off the bat I can say that you shouldn't approach this album looking for Sunn's trademark experience of monstrous drones. You won't find any of it here. This is really a Nurse With Wound album, consisting of reinterpretations of Sunn's material. It seems to be marketed as a remix album, but is it really a remix if there's barely any of the original recording left? I think not.

Still, for what it is, it's not terrible. I'm not familiar with Nurse With Wound, so I can't comment on how it compares to their usual material, but on this album we get an ambient experience that occasionally flirts with noise, and sprinkled with some quirks (like really strange vocal parts). I can't say that it provided an experience worth getting excited over, but it definitely wasn't boring, even though quite a lot of it feels like you're stuck in a limbo.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the album is where you identify the parts that came from Sunn's compositions. It's not an easy thing to do; a lot of the music feels like original material, even when it's not. But those times when you get the realization that "hey, this is one of Sunn's riffs!" are the points where you really understand how much effort was invested into reinterpreting Sunn's work. See, Nurse With Wound did not just take Sunn's riffs and simply changed the instrument, or threw in their own parts on top, they literally changed the whole tone of the music, and made it their own. This is why you can listen to Sunn riffs repeat a few times before realization strikes you; they blend in that well with the new tone and ambience.

My favorite part happens in their reinterpretation of Ra At Dawn. The original is notable for strumming the same chord for ~10 whole minutes. On Nurse With Wound's reinterpretation it's the same idea, but the guitar is replaced with shimmering bright ambience, which changes the dynamic completely. It's simultaneously pretty (as opposed to Sunn's dark version) and overbearing, but overbearing in a very different way than Sunn's version. Sunn's version feels like being crushed under large weight, this version feels like an endless light you can't hide from.

In the end, will I be listening to this again? No. Did I have fun? Well, I didn't suffer, but no. Was I impressed? Kinda. 7/10

Epic and immersive reworking by Nurse With Wound - 95%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, April 14th, 2012

I was really keen to get a copy of this reworking of Sunn0)))'s first full-length album by Nurse With Wound (currently constituting Steven Stapleton and collaborator Collin Potter) and as it turned out this disc "The Iron Soul of Nothing" comes as a bonus with the reissued first album. According to the track listing on my bonus copy, there are just three tracks on offer: the two parts of "Ra at Dawn" have been combined into one. No matter! - I'm sure the difference between what's on my copy and what MA says the track listing should be won't spoil listeners' enjoyment. I myself find this recording a very immersive and beautifully mesmerising work of ambient music that bears you gently away into a peaceful if sometimes dark universe of drone texture and mystery.

We first meet "Dysnystaxis {...A Chance Meeting with Somnus}", a gently unfolding work that comes out of the shadows and envelops the listener in slow shades of drone while a bass guitar gently taps out the time. Towards the halfway mark the tones become more urgent and active. The tones have a slight metallic ringing edge to them as though someone had a huge set of gongs and was sounding them constantly by spinning them yet keeping the vibrations fairly low-key. The track certainly does not sound anything like the original source material of down-tuned guitars and amplifiers. I swear I can hear something that sounds like a very distant ringing metal bell with a low tone beneath a repeating loop of violin or viola dripping with reverb.

Second track "Ash on the Trees {The Sudden Ebb of a Diatribe}" comes across as a more definite song with an actual rhythm, partly spoken / partly chanted lyrics and definite riffing, however slow and drawn out this is. There is plenty of ambient tone as well and an industrial edge with what sounds like a vibrating cymbal subjected to distortion and volume manipulation is introduced. The track enters an epic passage about the 7th minute, all very ghostly, and continues into a long and winding journey through dark wormholes in the cosmos ... or perhaps through secret narrow passages deep inside a pyramid in Egypt. Various effects and found sounds mix with definite serpentine guitar rumbles and repeating vocal loops to menace and trail us listeners as we continue deeper into the track. Constant breaking glass and hissing noises, spitting static and splatter-gun effects herald the track's climax as the distorted vocals reach the edge of hysteria.

"Ra at DawnI {Rapture, at Last / Numbed by Her Light}" starts quietly and steadily as though to atone for the violence of the previous track: it's all dark abstract majesty with an ongoing brass drone anchoring the piece while a bell tingles and metal tones rumble and write slowly through a black tunnel. Hissing noises seep through the murky cavern of space. The whole track builds slowly and relentlessly and the mood grows more sinister. This is most definitely not a track to listen to late at night if you think you've got little bogeymen and women under the bed; they are sure to just love this quietly creepy piece and come out to swoon over its hiss and ever-quivering drones. About the 15th minute, the piece appears to start hovering as though the whole time it's been an alien spacecraft travelling to Earth and has now just arrived and is preparing to land. Let's hope the crew doesn't emerge and ask us to take them to our leaders! Instead the aliens are lowering the spaceship through the earth through technological means beyond our comprehension, breaking the laws of physics; the music is quieter and more insidious. Gradually it fades into nothingness as the craft disappears from sight.

NWW demonstrate that even in the earliest Sunn0))) material when that band was embarking on its long journey and interrogation of the drone, there is still so much potential there for new music to be created from it; it's as if "ØØ Void" represents the beginning of the Big Bang. Apart from parts of "Ash on the Trees ...", not much here sounds very much like what I'd expect of Sunn0))). This is very epic, dignified and majestic music indeed.