The Vinyl Factory invited me to whack together a few thoughts on Sunn O))). Heck, why wouldn’t I jump at the opportunity? Sunn O))) are glorious.
Every band has a window where they run the risk of repetition, of doing the same thing again. Evolution has to happen. Some bands break up. Others wind up releasing novelties – “oh, this is our dance-orientated album…” Many make changes to the environment surrounding the songs – new studio, different equipment, switch of producer. A lot just start sounding like they’re weary of it all, there’s no longer a pressure or a drive underscoring what they’re doing. There’s no perfect answer, these aren’t always irrelevant alterations, sometimes each option has or might rejuvenate an artist.
Sunn O))) have managed change. There’s always a reminder of their mastery over the groove they established over the releases from 1999-2003 whether that means a burst of savage slow power in the midst of a longer composition, or a song given over entirely to wrecking bowels and brains for ten minutes. Around that, however, Sunn O))) has been hugely open to new collaborators, to fresh experiments, to taking past models and refurbishing and reviving them. They’re an intelligent band not in the sense of wearing learning on the sleeves of their cowls, more in the sense that they seem to combine improvisation and on-the-spot experimentation with proper contemplation of how the elements of their sound might be rejigged, how other musicians and instruments can be integrated, how a release might carry a theme or vibe across an entire album…
What the hell. Enjoy.