Sunn 0))) – ‘Monoliths & Dimensions’

September 5, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: The Big Issue #336, August/September 2009.

Monoliths & Dimensions
Sunn 0)))
****1/2

To describe what Sunn 0))) make in terms of music would seem an underestimation. Drawing on black metal as much as the minimalist tropes of late contemporary composer John Cage, the duo’s brand of brutal, detuned guitars and tonal, distortion-rich ambience rests more in the field of tectonic reverberation.

Seventh studio album Monoliths & Dimensions is perhaps Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson’s most intense, but also most dynamic, orchestral and downright masterful to date. Joining forces with Australian drone guitarist Oren Ambarchi, Hungarian throat singer Attilar Csihar, Coltrane and Sun Ra collaborator Julian Priester and a Viennese women’s choir, the Sunn 0)))’s pummelling noise and lurching drones fissure and break apart here. Shards of tonal clarity and harmonic calm rise from the cracks.

There are countless highlights. Three-part opus ‘Big Church’ counterpoints the beauteous vocals of the women’s choir against shroud of noise and power, while the lurking, decelerated guitar structures of ‘Alice’ give way to angelic peals of brass. It’s striking, flourishing, almost shocking in its unexpected lavishness.

Sunn 0))) have always made music of great scale. What Monoliths & Dimensions illustrates so definitively is that they now make music of great beauty and great complexity as well.

Dan Rule

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