Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunn O)))

On October 9th, Celtic Frost headlined a show at the Marquee Theater in Tempe. Also on the bill were Servile Sect, Goatwhore, and Sunn O))). I rode my bicycle through a light rain over the Mill Ave. bridge, dodging lighting, stopped on the street, got a little oila-loila, and paid my $28. The crowd was very light, and a good mix from tight-jeaned ASU students, to bikers, to guys in suits. I was interested in one band only. Servile Sect was a local noise(?) act I found mostly uninteresting and derivative. Goatwhore was exactly as they should be, brutal meathead death metal with a corresponding level of intelligence. The requisite comments were made about the classic status of Celtic Frost. Something like "I was listening to Morbid Tales when I was 12". The guitarist chimed in with, "you fuckin pussies probably downloaded it last week". Sometimes it amazes me that I have found any shreds of sublimity in this "scene". My former bandmates in The Fatal Effect will be playing a show with this band on Nov 27th. Goatwhore was followed by Sunn O))). I think I may have been too young, or maybe not metal enough to get into Celtic Frost. I left before their set began.
The absurdity and irrelevance of a band like Sunn O))) is not incommensurate with its importance. In fact, their very inconsequence is paramount. Their singularly ridiculous aesthetic has somehow gained mainstream credibility in the past year or so, and they recently appeared in a major article in New York Times Magazine, where they were described as "not unlike listening to an Indian Raga in the middle of an earthquake." This elite recognition begs other questions I will ignore for now. Refer to the extensively documented occult underpinnings of the upper crust. When I first discovered this band, I felt that they were completely boundary dissolving. This is incorrect. Banality has taken hold. Their power now lies in sound alone, for its own sake. I am pretty sure that a local friend of theirs took the stage with them for vocals, and provided the predictable pseudo-satanic backwards chanting. It was dark, ,green, and the entire venue was filled with fog for the duration. The photo below was deeply manipulated to tease out the little bit of light and color that is there. There was little to no experimental sound manipulation. This was a full on guitar drone that went on for at least 40 minutes. They may have been the loudest band I have ever heard. The Moog, the bass guitar and the twin Les Pauls created resonance that cannot be explained. My insides shook, and my senses blurred a few times. It was ultimately unsatisfying though. I am looking for the next level of shamanic sound. How unfeasible would it be to assemble several thousand yidaki playing the same note somewhere? Sunn0))) doesnt cut it anymore, but is the best I've got.

Photo: Michael Hojjatie


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