Sunn O)))
Monoliths & Dimensions

I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never been a drone fan and despite being seven albums into their career the apparent pinnacle of the genre, this is my first exposure to the duo of Greg Anderson and Stephen O’ Malley.

However, what intrigued me about this release and prompted me to check Sunn O))) out for the first time was reading that this release included a plethora of guest musicians which have introduced some new elements to Sunn O)))’s sound. Composer and violinist Eyvind Kang contributes a number of string and choral arrangements, Attila Csihar provides some haunting whispers and spoken words guitar virtuoso and Oren Ambarchi as well as Earths’ Dylan Carlson, trombone legend Julian Priester and horn player Stuart Dempster contribute in conjunction with the addition of French horns, harps, flutes, a piano and a Viennese choir led by Jessika Kenney.

The end result? Nothing less than a brilliant, pure, sensory and musical experience.

I can’t obviously compare Monoliths & Dimensions to the band’s previous six works, but I’ve been told that they are more pure drone compared to this far more adventurous and bold exercise in tectonic shifting experimentation and hypnotic, droning beauty.

Starting with the 17 and ½ minute “Agartha” which is a four note, droning exercise in cavernous, down tuned lethargy layered with discordant orchestration and Csihar’s twisted chanting, the album simply commands your attention as it drags you into a drone filled stupor littered with avant-garde, experimentation, which elevates the drone into more powerful, transcendental, dare I say artistic realms. However, the next track, and personal favorite “Big Church” scatters the mountainous riffs with truly amazing female choirs and more of Csihar’s crazed whispers and chanting. It’s more like an aural ritual than a song. Unfortunately, at a shade under 10 minutes, it’s the albums shortest track. The horns and choirs that appear about two minutes and a ½ into “Hunting & Gathering (Cydonia)” take the monolithic droning into regal and epic territory unlike anything you’ve heard and then there’s the vast instrumental “Alice” which initially seems almost barren and desolate compared to the prior three tracks. However, around 7 minutes in, the horns and strings kick in, making the chord progression and shimmering, trombone flocked climax sound triumphant, beautiful and radiant. Just gorgeous.

It should also be noted that I had both the CD and 2 disc vinyl versions of this record, and listening to the vinyl version (the first vinyl I have listened to in over a decade), truly made me appreciate the natural, organic hues that gloss the knee wilting heaviness and how this record was meant to be truly experienced.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
July 6th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: Hevy Blevy

    Another glowing review for this record? Come on, this is the most boring record released this year. Black One was pretty cool, but…don’t give into the hype, you are smarter than this Mr. Thomas.


  2. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    I have not heard any other releases by this band, but Im stand by the fact this release blew me away.


  3. Commented by: Justin

    I agree with Erik…this album is amazing. I know the band’s back catalog well and it dwarfs the other albums in Sunn O)))’s history, including Black One. There are frequent occasions when critics seem to jump on a release and hype the shit out of it for no reason. This is one of the occasions where the praise and accolades are completely deserved.

    Even if you aren’t a big fan of the albums, you should check the band out live…it’s quite an experience.


  4. Commented by: Hevy Blevy

    ..too each his own I suppose – keep up the good work anyways!


  5. Commented by: Drowningincorn

    I love Atilla but to me his vocals ruined this record. They seemed to be on there just for the sake of being on there. His singing just doesn’t fit at all to me. Some of the repetitions seemed forced too. It doesn’t repeat to add to the droning depth, it just repeats like you restarted the song. It’s as if they had 4 minutes of ideas then just repeated the same thing 3 times over. I loved Black1 but this record just seems like they tried to do too much just for the sake of doing it.


  6. Commented by: Justin

    He does sometimes sound like the second coming of Bela Lugosi.


  7. Commented by: Dimaension X

    I really prefer “Pentemple”


  8. Commented by: Blog › Teeth of the Divine Staff Picks of 2009 › Teeth of the Divine

    […] Best Album: Sunn O))) – Monoliths And Dimensions […]


  9. Commented by: noe,lvis txdm

    i liked the new album, but… i still go back to PENTEMPLE i hope i get the chance to see them live


  10. Commented by: Old Pick Axe

    Sunn O))) are brilliant and Attila Csihar is a God. I love these guys.


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