Let There be drone + Support: Caspar Brötzmann
For over twenty years, Sunn O))) have been challenging the way we think about music. In that relatively brief time, core members Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have forged connections between the worlds of metal, drone, contemporary composition, jazz, and minimalism with startling results, all while remaining true to the eternal principles of volume, density, and weight. This spring and summer 2019 they return to Berlin twice for the first time since 2015, in support of Life Metal, their first studio album in four years, which is to be released worldwide on 26 April 2019 via Southern Lord. Two special Sunn O))) live performances will descend on Festsaal Kreuzberg on 30 and 31 July, respectively. Supporting both shows will be the singular Berlin guitarist Caspar Brötzmann. A series of his eternally grinding guitar works is currently being reissued by Southern Lord.
At the very beginning of 2018, Sunn O))) co-founders Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson set out on a path toward a new album production. They were both determined to create new music and a new method of working in the studio, but without forgetting the accomplishments forged during their first two decades of existence.
After gathering twice last spring to write, conceptualise, and jam, in addition to holding a pre-production session at Dave Grohl’s 606 Studios together with T.O.S. on Moog, the band spent just over two weeks working at Chicago’s famed Electrical Audio Studio with Steve Albini at the helm. The results are astounding; the breadth of colour and sound are vast, impeccably recorded, and completely accurate in their representation. The spectrum cracked the firmament open in clarity. An all analogue technique was used: they recorded and mixed on tape, providing a creative gateway for Sunn O))) to evolve their production methods into stronger, confident, performance-based, and more logical executive process.
The album took shape through collaborative explorations with Hildur Guðnadóttir, the renowned cellist, film music composer, and former member of the bands Múm, Pan Sonic, and Angel; Tim Midyett, a close friend of Greg and Stephen since the Seattle days of the early 90s (and member of Silkworm, Bottomless Pit and Mint Mile), who occupied a foundational role by tying earth to sound with wicked performances on aluminium neck bass and baritone guitars; and prolific new music composer Anthony Pateras, who arranged and recorded an incredible contribution of pipe organ for a piece titled „Troubled Air.“
Since Anderson and O’Malley formed the band in 1998, they have developed a formidable reputation for their ability to create massive wave-pools of sound that are truly livid and powerful in magnitudes of amplitude, though rarely harsh. The sounds of Sunn O))) start low and intensify incrementally until they’ve transformed the entire listening area into a vibrating chamber teeming with elegant sustain. Adding to the timeless sensory overload of the Sunn O))) experience, the band members obscure themselves in clouds of thick fog, dressing in hooded robes, periodically thrusting guitars toward the sky as they lead us into the lowest frequencies imaginable.
Both Berlin shows will be supported by solo live performances of Caspar Brötzmann, one of the most unique and innovative guitarists of the last forty years. With his Berlin-based trio Massaker, he evolved a whole new autonomous approach to writing rock songs, starting from sounds that were widely considered ornamental, if not detrimental “sonic waste,” such as shrieking feedback and droning overtones. Ultra-heavy riffs, unhinged beats, ominous tribal chants, and raw physical force are conjured by sinister, thrilling minds. Even today, as the art of noise has reached a level of sophistication that no one could have imagined thirty years ago, Caspar Brötzmann’s music is resoundingly singular. Starting with Brötzmann’s 1988 debut album The Tribe and its 1989 follow-up Black Axis, Southern Lord will reissue 5 of the remarkable guitarist’s albums throughout 2019.
Sunn O)))’s live shows will be preceded by a Life Metal listening session at Berghain’s Säule on 3 April. Southern Lord Recordings (co-founded by O’Malley and Anderson themselves) collaborate with Editions Mego sub-label Ideologic Organ (run by O’Malley) to present the evening, showcasing „Life Metal“ in its ideal listening setting.