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SunnO))) / Hildur Guðnadóttir (live at Convergence)

The Barbican, London 21 March 2017

SunnO))) live at Convergence 2017The tickets. We purchased them, they came. Who are they? Explorers in the further reaches of experience — demons to some, angels to others. We bought the tickets, they came. Now we must come with them and taste their pleasures.

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SunnO))) / Phurpa (live at Meltdown)

The Royal Festival Hall, London 18 August 2015

Throat-singing. It’s the new rock and roll. Or the OLD rock and roll, if you subscribe to the theory espoused by the likes of luminaries such as Patti Smith, Julian Cope and me that a rock concert is essentially the modern variant on religious worship. Phurpa bridge this gap across time and space by playing ancient devotional Bön music (from an incredibly early form of Buddhism) in a rock setting, sat cross-legged on the floor of the Royal Festival Hall in front of an audience of metalheads.

Phurpa (Picture: Meltdown) Phurpa (Picture: Meltdown)

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Scott Walker and Sunn O))) – Soused

4AD

Scott Walker and SunnO))) - SousedIt’s been a good year for well-placed teasers and stealth advertising. Last week Mark Frost and David Lynch announced the return of Twin Peaks with simultaneous “That gum you like is going to come back in style” tweets, and everyone of course clocked it instantly. But the king of them all in 2014 was when Southern Lord just put out an image of the word “SCOTT O)))”. Because of all the Scotts in the world, there was only one it could realistically be. But could such a thing even be possible?

Yes. Yes, it could. It was, and it’s happened. Scott Walker and Sunn O))), two of the most uncompromising acts in the business, have gone into the studio together.

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SunnO))) and Ulver – Terrestrials

Southern Lord

Sunn O))) and Ulver - TerrestrialsOn Terrestrials, drone metal pioneers SunnO))) join with black metal genrefuckers Ulver. Here, SunnO)))’s signature basalt bass sculptures are adorned with electronic flourishes and orchestral elegance to create a sprawling desert landscape. Ra’s priests worship the sun with burnished brass, while poor benighted pilgrims wander through blighted, mosquito-ridden swamps.

Terrestrials picks up where 2009’s Monoliths & Dimensions track “Alice” left off, drawing previously unheard connections between heavy metal minimalism and euphoric Spiritual Jazz, in homage to the late free-jazz pianist/harpist Alice Coltrane. Monoliths & Dimensions also featured former Sun Ra Arkestra trombonist Julian Priester, as well as church organs, choirs and a string section, showing that the band was already concerned with expanding the peripheries of heavy, slow, repetitive

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SunnO)))/Nurse with Wound (live at Koko)

Koko, London 12 June 2012

Been wrapped up in the awesomeness of NWW/SunnO)))‘s collaboration [post=sunnnww text=”The Iron Soul of Nothing”] since New Year, so naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to see both groups together. I was secretly wishing for a stage collaboration of sorts, but it was pretty clear, as Colin Potter, Steve Stapleton, Andrew Liles and somebody else I didn’t recognise on bass (was that Mr Waldron sporting hair!!?) filled the stage, that this was going to be a game of two separate halves.

The proceedings started quite sharpish, with none of the usual waiting around that London gigs seem overly keen

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SunnO)))(+Nurse With Wound) – øøVoid/The Iron Soul of Nothing

Southern Lord/Ideologic Organ (Editions Mego)

Not long ago, in the relatively balmy days of early December, I found myself, as is my usual daily routine, strolling through the local cemetery, Abney Park, all overgrown and witch-haunted, broken angels and grasping stone hands. And that’s on a normal day. But this particular afternoon the region was visited by the harbinger of truly apocalyptic weather. About an hour earlier than was reasonable (and certainly earlier than would be considered polite by any civilised climatic system) the sun went dark, the wind picked up, and darkness descended across the land. The veil of the Temple may even have been rent in two, but I was nowhere near the bloody Temple, what with being on the other side of the world and all, so I couldn’t really tell you with any degree of accuracy whether that

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SunnO))) (live at Koko)

Koko, London 14 December 2009

The cavernous space of Koko, once known better in the days of music hall and indie rock dance club as the Camden Palace, turns out to be eminently suitable for hosting bands whose raison d’etre is shifting air pressure through the application of low end to the somewhat notoriously loud speakers of the PA. Koko may not exactly have the acoustics of a cathedral (or even the natural reverb of the Norwegian church which hosted SunnO)))‘s excellently immense live double LP Dømskirke), but the tiers of balconies also provide plentiful vantage points for the audience to get a full view – and earful – of the proceedings.

SunnO))) (live at Koko) […]

SunnO)))/BJ Nilsen (live)

Islington Mill, Salford 8 December 2009

Ever vampiric, the avant-guard periodically replenishes itself on fresh blood in pastures new. Jazz, psych, prog, industrial and Dance have all fallen prey during the past half century, and now it’s the turn of that seemingly most reactionary of genres, metal. The signs had been there as far back as the early 90s, with the Melvins, Sleep and Earth all forging new routes away from rock clichédom without forsaking the initial visceral appeal of the genre, but SunnO))) have taken up the baton with a renewed sense of purpose. Guitarist Stephen O’Malley’s MySpace page reveals his musical influences to include Sun Ra, Iancu Dumitrescu, Mika Vainio, Keiji Haino, Steven Stapleton and Andrei Tarkovsky – this is most surely what we want from our rock gods.

After a decade of increasingly good albums, 2009 saw Sunn O))) release the astonishing Monoliths and Dimensions, an album

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SunnO)))/Chrome Hoof (live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall)

Meltdown 2007 Queen Elizabeth Hall, London 18th June 2007

Chrome HoofThe smoke and glitter which characterises Chrome Hoof‘s performance at Meltdown 2007 is something of a wonder to behold. Unleashing a brain-boggling riot of progtastic disco – complete with intoned disclaimer for any responsibilty for the effect of the show on the audience at the start, this thirteen-piece bunch of silver-clad space invaders proceed to set out to do their level best to give the term weirdo a good name.

Chrome HoofIt’s a good thing that Chrome Hoof have a stage big enough to fit them all on with room to spare, and it later becomes apparent that the troupe will make the most of the freedom a nice bit of

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