Sunn o))) return with titanic ‘Pyroclasts’

If you haven’t heard of Sunn 0))) (pronounced ‘Sun’), picture a self proclaimed ‘guitar band’ whose music sits in the liminal spaces at the edge of music itself. For 20 years now they have been producing some of the loudest, slowest, most powerful noise achievable, straddling genres such as hyperslow drone, metal, sludge and noise, and their latest effort Pyroclasts shows no sign of stopping their thunderous, glacial pace.

One of the main problems with really growing to love a band like Sunn 0))) is that their music is inherently daunting. The four songs which comprise Pyroclasts are scarcely different, each centring around a single, 11 minute, droned note. The magic of Sunn 0))) comes in their ability to explode this note into the fundamental resonances and harmonics which constitute its very essence.

It happens unconsciously; somewhere, buried deep in the colossal churns of ‘Kingdoms (G)’ or the windswept tundra of ‘Frost (C)‘, there comes a slightly confused moment of realisation, that you have in fact been listening to an arrhythmic, atmospheric fuzz for several minutes. The realisation which comes after is that this same fuzz has completely surrounded you, and you are lost in it. It’s a surreal and beautiful feeling to be truly lost in a wave of sound, and one that has accompanied nearly every record Sunn 0))) has put out.

That’s not to say, however, that this album rests on the monoliths which have come before it. The B side in particular explores the brighter side of Sunn 0)))’s admittedly dark sound, with major tonalities and higher textures complementing the chilly first half through a warm, prominent bass which recalls the efforts of April’s Life Metal (the two albums were recorded together). Crucially, however, as with other titans of the drone-double-album movement, such as Grouper’s AIA set or Tim Hecker’s Konoyo/Anoyo, the second album is crafted to such meticulous standards that it can stand as both a companion and a singular work.

Whether as an introduction to Sunn 0)))’s formidable discography, or the latest culmination of their developments, Pyroclasts is a titanic, rewarding effort.

Image: Pop Mart Media

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