Rarely can music, or moreover, sound, truly enrich life and advance consciousness so instantaneously. Sunn O))) has not only changed my personal perception of music in all of its possibilities, but also has cultivated an ideological wildfire; broaching the endless implications of sound as art to audiences worldwide. Harnessing all the powers of drone, doom metal, ambient, and noise, the band’s synthesis has been remarkably experimental—a successful experiment, depending on your definition of the word, and the reach of your musical palate. To date, the band has released over 115 albums, including demos, full-lengths, singles, splits, compilations, box sets, collaborations, and live albums from concerts across the globe. Their reach has been expansive, to say the least. These guys have paid their dues to the underground.
Conceived in 1998, Sunn O))) is a formative drone band, endowed with members from some of the most influential doom, sludge, and drone projects to date. Greg Anderson (bassist/guitarist), has lately been noted as one of the major innovators in experimental music, playing in both current and previous lineups such as Ascend, Goatsnake, Pentemple, Thorr’s Hammer, Burning Witch, and many more. Stephen O’Malley (bassist/guitarist) is also hailed for his innovations, playing in pivotal projects, both current and previous, such as Äänipää, Ginnungagap, Gravetemple, KTL, Magistral, Æthenor, Burning Witch, Khanate, Thorr’s Hammer, Ensemble Pearl, Nazoranai, and more. The live line-up for Sunn O))) also includes Attila Csihar on vocals, Steve Moore on electronics/keyboards/trombone, Oren Ambarchi on guitars/keyboards, and Tos Nieuwenhuizen on keyboards.
The taste for drone is somewhat exclusive, as to say, it surely isn’t for everyone. I had previously listened to several of Sunn O)))’s albums, and was more than partial to them, especially the Monoliths & Dimensions album, which was basically on repeat in my car for weeks. However, I had no idea what I was listening to until I saw the band live. While their albums are incredibly artistic and perfect for reposed, easy listening, this music is about the experience… and a transforming experience, it is.
The first thing that happened for me at the show was the realization of what sheer power and volume these guys play at. However, it isn’t just loud, it’s resounding energy. The sounds resonating from the stage literally sent tactile vibrations through the venue. The crowd, in a stunned, open-mouth, religiously hypnotic state, began raising their hands in the air— but not just to throw up the “horns” here or there as per the general enjoyment of most metal shows. I’m talking about a sea of people holding flat hands up in the air before them, so that they could physically feel the current of sound flowing through them. The best description I could possibly provide for this has already been gifted to us in the name of the band as well as the amplifiers they use. It was the somatic equivalent to experiencing the rays of the sun.
You listen to this music through your entire being. The vibrating energy, the vibrating venue, and the vibrations in the body…it’s all part of it. There is a hypnotic feeling that everything in you is rearranging itself, healing at a cellular as well as a spiritual level. The set itself lasted approximately an hour and a half, which seemed to be comprised of one, extremely long, slow song. However, the soothing vibration in my body lasted days. It was like an internal purr, as cats produce to self-soothe, was living in my chest as I walked through life; a healing souvenir from my experience.