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My First Taste of Drone - 82%

ImpureSoul, June 20th, 2010

Drone music is an accquired taste, for sure. It isn't about musical value; from what I gather, it's about invoking feelings and a surreal, dreamlike state from assortments of very few sustained notes and minimalistic ambient sounds. It is just about as minimalistic as you can possibly get in the musical world, but I can say for sure that sitting back, closing your eyes and listening to drone is an experience unlike any other. Right now, I'm so fresh to this kind of "music" that I'm still not sure what to think about it. In any case, every review I've seen for drone albums are from those select few who are used to it and have been used to it for a sensible amount of time. I thought that there are probably more people out there who don't even know what drone is or are brand new to it. This review is for those people. This is my first drone album and my first review of a drone album so forgive me if my opinions on the subject are a little weak.

I haven't even known about drone for a month at the time of writing this review. Back when I was getting into "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" album by black metal band Mayhem, I wanted to hear more from Attilas' inhuman vocals. Later on, I came across a band called Burial Chamber Trio, on a webpage that said that Attilas was in it. Interested, I listened to Side B of their first release and was baffled that this kind of music could exist. I later found out that this band was a project by Attilas and someone named Stephen O'Malley, who was well-known for his band Sunn O))). I found an extremely rare Sunn O))) EP, called Oracle, at my local record store. Despite it being worth a pretty penny, I bought it and brought it back with me. At that time, I had heard a few drone music tracks, and I found myself becoming strangely addicted to it. Maybe it's just a phase, but in a few months I'll review another drone album to see how I feel about it.

Now, since I have the LP version of Oracle, the 48-minute third track is not included. Anyway, the first song is titled "Belülrõl Pusztít", which is a compilation of synths that give a soft hum and bass. These two instruments put down the foundation of the song that creates a wall of sound effect that helps me get into it. Right off, the album pulls into the doom and gloom feel, with disturbed, guttural growls and whispers from Attila Csihar that jump out at you from the wall of sound. You can really feel Attila's almost haunting presence throughout the album. He makes a lot of really wierd noises with his voice that are remniscent of his Mayhem days, and he gets creepier and creepier as the song progresses. As it goes on, different layers slowly creep in: a high-pitched whistling, a few drum beats, and even a short jackhammer section about 6 minutes in. Unfortunately for me, this side of the record is really staticky, and I can't really get into it. Hearing it on the internet though, I can say that it's a really good piece of drone and I may prefer this to the other track.

The next track, (and final track for me) is Orakulum, which is a lot heavier than Belülrõl Pusztít. It starts with the high-pitched whine of feedback from a droning guitar, and falls into a slow, dark guitar riff that at times sounds almost like it's playing the opening for "Chainsaw Gutsfuck" in super slow-motion. This is the first time on the album hearing the guitars, and they sure do effect the overall sound, making this song seem a lot more grim than the last one. Attilas' vocals creep in at 3 minutes, with a lot more reverb than before, and sound a lot more supernatural too. When I close my eyes, I see this gigantic deformed face floating in the night sky and speaking in the dark. It's a really cool feeling. This song doesn't have quite as much range as the last one, though, and, balancing the two songs out, they both have their strong points that makes it hard to pick favorites. I listen to this song more singe I can't hear that damn crackling as much on this side of the vinyl, so it's easier for me personally to slip into the emotion of this album.

All in all, I'm glad I bought this. As I said before, if you're new to drone or if you've never heard it, go in with an open mind and be ready for something strange. If I had heard this a year ago or even 6 months ago, I would've hated it. But for now, I'm just getting new to it. It really creates a dense atmopshere that really jumps out at me, and there is some overwhelming sense of relaxation when I hear it. Then again, I wrote this review not even six hours after buying it and hearing it on my turntable, but for now I like how much emotion this band can give me from barely doing anything. I have heard of Sunn O)))'s albums "Black One" and "Flight of the Behemoth" for being their best by far, so I'll give those a try. When I'm not a noob to this obscure genre of music, I'll come back and write another review for drone.

Originally written for spirit-of-metal.com under the username InfinityZero.

A bit disappointing, bonus CD just goes on and on - 75%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, July 3rd, 2007

My copy of "Oracle" is part of a limited edition available only in Australia and Japan and which consists of an EP featuring two long tracks "Belulrol Pusztit" and "Orakulum" and a bonus live CD of just one 46-minute track "Helio)))sophist" . I commend the (presumably legal) efforts of The5ickness in getting this limited edition and suggest he also check out the Japanese editions of other Sunn0))) records "white1" and "white2" which have extra music and should be a bit easier to come by in the United States. The line-up on both CDs include vocalist Attila Csihar.

The two tracks on the EP are both over 15 minutes in length so the disc could as well qualify as a full-length album. The lyrics on both songs are in Hungarian and though they are printed on the CD sleeve, they are not translated into English so whatever Csihar is warbling about I have no idea at all but his whispers, rumbles and other strange vocal effects blend in with the music and form another element. Lyrics are not important really, the effect of the music on the listener overrides other considerations. A feature on "Belulrol Pusztit" that has not appeared on the US duo's previous recordings is a jackhammer rhythm which provides a hard-hitting tinny and mechanical contrast with the undulating metal drone. Atsuo of Boris puts in an appearance with his manic tom-tom beating and crashing cymbals. The core Sunn0))) duo stay in the background with minimal guitar moaning leaving Csihar, Atsuo and another guest Joe Preston to hog the limelight.

"Orakulum" is a different beast: Anderson and O'Malley's guitars wake up suddenly and start making up for lost time while Csihar, sidelined into a cavern, lashes out now and again like a vengeful monster, his vocals made more demonic with reverb and hissing effects. His vocals ebb and flow and push the repetitive guitar riffs along; the reverb effect on the singing assumes a deep sporadic percussion effect and soon this detaches itself from Csihar's vocalisations. The actual guitar playing does not advance very significantly - unkind souls out there will swear they've heard the same thing on most other Sunn0))) records - but the special effects and other little details lift the song into another realm of extreme gravity and super-dense matter where a teaspoon of liquid weighs as much as a herd of elephants.

The bonus track "Helio)))sophist" is a mixture of various performances during the band's European tour in 2005 and while it's a pleasant summary of what went on, it doesn't compare with the recordings on "Solstitium Fulminate" which is the bonus CD that accompanied the first 200 copies of "Black One". Those live recordings, mixed by Oren Ambarchi as was also "Helio)))sophist", had a structure and an implied purpose which aren't present here so the track just seems to go on and on endlessly. Parts of it are quite good - these are where the guitars chime loudly and Csihar goes into a trance - so it's a pity not much seems to have been made out of this raw material.

The EP serves as an introduction to Sunn0))) and their methods of recording and revolving-door approach to hiring musicians for those who haven't yet seen the light (heh heh) or felt the droney ones' heavy touch. In quality and variety this doesn't come anywhere near "Black One" and "Altar" - I have to say I was a bit disappointed, seeing as Csihar is good at what he does although his range is starting to sound a bit limited. If you already have a substantial collection of Sunn0))) recordings plus all the alarmingly burgeoning side project recordings - as I was writing this, MK Ultra (Recording Machine) Blizzard's side projects Lotus Eaters, Grave Temple and Magistral each had a new album out at the same time! (Stephen, I think you have to get out in the fresh air more) - you need not necessarily get this EP unless of course you must have everything the guys have done and you have a hidden vault in a mountain to stash everything.

Was it worth the difficulty to get? - 95%

The5ickness, May 18th, 2007

When it comes to reviewing drone, it isn't exactly my strong suit. Some terminology may be wrong.

When I hear drone, the first thing that comes to mind is Sunn O))).
Well known, and many albums in, they give us this (limited?) release, Oracle.

The album starts with " Belürol Pusztít"... we are started off to VERYYYY low bass that starts to pick up, with a low, growl like vocal. Around 5 minutes you start to hear what SOUNDS to me like a jack hammer, with screams in the back ground, and that constant enticing hum with some sort of chanting the in background. Once the "Jackhammer" leaves us, we get to a loud bit of bass, and some drums, that to me sound like someone took a kit and through them down a flight of stairs, the song exists with the ever present hum.

Track two, we have "Orakulum". It starts off with an ear piercing, siren like noise. And than we have, again bass... the reason this song shines ( my favorite of the album )... about 4 minutes in... there is this "Chanting" to accompany the bass and feedback. This continues to get better and better and better, we exit with chanting and lead into the albums final track....

Helio)))sophist... This song, is just under the 50 minute mark, not uncommon for drone. Again, the trace like chant follows us for about 9-10 minutes, and than we eventually have these sort of growls ... all this done to bass and feedback of course. The song has a trance like, bass work for pretty much 40 minutes, and this is where it shows it short coming, the bass work is amazing ... but it just seems like a huge, wide open field, that could of sprouted opportunity at any moment ... it fails to do so, except for maybe 1-2 minutes. We exit with a LONG growl.

This album is near perfect, and if wasn't for the 40minutes of Helio)))sophist, it would have been perfect. This is my first drone review, please don't harass me for my opinion =p