Articles by Jon Buckland
There is plenty to unpack beneath this caustic juggernaut, but even a coast across the surface is rewarding enough.
The whole album is chock-full of fun as it rampages from one over-egged, over-clocked, and over-the-damn-top composition to the next. It takes the theatricality of operatic performance and threads it through with an explosive and wild extreme metal performance.
That Sunn O))) can keep releasing albums that are this fantastically captivating is practically absurd. By all rights their music ought to feel like rank repetition. Like it is kicking up old, worn, ground. And yet, instead, this feels full of vitality. It’s fresh and demanding of your attention.
A work of heaving emotional frailty.
The musical equivalent of wet eyes looking out across the empty rooftops of a lonely city at night, watching the twinkle of streetlights mesh with the stars.
This serves as a little time-travelling gift which Peter Broderick has been able to deliver as if spurred on from the past. It was encoded for the one but is relatable to so many.
When they shift off of the beaten path into untrammelled sounds, Low’s noise is that of a dense unravelling. It is furrowed from fathomless depths. It is the sedate carnage of planetary creation, of rushing magma, and swelling seas.
HEALTH are envisioned as a digital, sonic militia dispatching waves of audial gunfire whilst a honey-voiced dictator enchants his republic with vague, nihilist rhetoric.
Due out early next year, The Quiet Earth is a tinder box of curiosities.
Here we have an album that shifts from jubilant hip hop instrumentals into the depths of a funeral dirge before ascending into a post-rock pomp.
These are not sweet sounds of hope and survival. This is the grainy submission of Begotten. The clawing hands of wretched scum. The swallowing of black tar and the breathing of piled earth.
Perched precariously between the constant sweeps of Lubomyr Melnyk and the atonal work of Steve Reich, Baber has captured a soothing set of sounds that show technical dexterity whilst embodying a cheerfulness that is neither mawkish or saccharine.
There is something inherently watery in Ólafur Arnalds’ sounds. That is not to say weak, but dappled and flowing. Of natural rhythms and glinting possibility. It’s also music that is aware of an unruly danger. A fluid threat. And in that lies the trickle of melancholy, of potential fear, that pervades re:member.
‘Redux’… seems to call out to comrades in loss. It extends a hand, an arm, a shoulder and whispers that you too can be pulled through this period and, in taking that hand, you will also help with the weight that seems so essential to her sounds. She wants us to know that, from this dark state, light can be found and it can be reached. And we can go on this journey together.
It threatens to build into something explosive, something soaring but, like an MDMA-fuelled orgasm, the payoff seems to always be just out of reach.
Fortunately Hecker hasn’t just nipped back to turn the volume up though. He and Matt Colton (of Alchemy Mastering) have approached these sessions with fresh ears and an apparent eagerness to find new rhythms and melodies buried within those original dronescapes. They tease out emotive leads from sunken dirges and, in the cases of ‘The Work Of Art In The Age Of Cultural Over Production’ and ‘7000 Miles’, beef up the noise to marrow-loosening levels.
This is one to immerse yourself in. It is easy to disappear within the folds of time. Feel them slip away like lost memories and dreamt lives. It’s a haunting journey before the aforementioned redemptive final piece changes gear, gently lifts these ephemeral wraiths and bestows them to sacrosanct and luminous worlds beyond our prosaic comprehension.
From start to finish this record is transcendental. It lifts, it gifts wings. It lightens loads and massages worries to the peripheries of the mind.
This isn’t music that either knows of or wants a safe space. It’s vanquishing. It’s cathartic. It’s working through its mental passengers. It’s also the paranoid rave of the avant garde.
This is music of escapism. Of thoughts drifting from the concrete surroundings, peeking over a grey wall and daubing it with the colours of the mind.
Somewhere amidst the punishing snivel of Uniform and the sheer oppression of The Body lies a decaying core that contains just enough light to illuminate their tragedies with a sliver of hope. And it’s this unexpected culet that elevates this record above already stratospheric expectations.