Now that I’m finally here, it’s weird. What am I going to do with myself, now that I don’t have to listen to several Sunn O))) records once in a while and write a bunch of inane gibberish about them, or not about them as seems to have been the case recently?
How about literally anything else? Which is not that much really. I’m a man with too much free time and too much internet. Maybe I’ll arbitrarily limit my internet access for a while and try to get stuff done. Maybe I’ll just waste and wither away in a dark room lit only by the blue-glow of my Dell Ultrasharp 2209WA like a hermit. Whichever it is, it won’t be this. This is done.
I am quite certain Sunn O))) will release new material in the future, and I am quite certain I will listen to it, but the original premise of this series has been fulfilled (he said in passive voice) so I can now figuratively wrap it all up in a burlap sack with a brick and drop it in the canal I live near.
Terrestrials (Sunn O))) & Ulver) (2014)
There was a Sunn O))) & Ulver track in the WHITEbox, called CUTWOODeD that was cool. So why not go whole hog and make a record together huh? Yeah, why not?
There’s some stuff about this record that’s… Well, I’ll talk about that in a bit. Let’s cut to the chase.
Make no mistake, this album has interesting ideas on it. Let There Be Light is quite excellent, with its slow jazzy trumpet and maudlin violin. This track kind of simmers on a low heat by Sunn O))) standards, but exists vaguely within Ulver’s dynamic spectrum. At the tail end the piece takes a turn into rhythmic territory, but like much of Sunn O))) and Ulver’s recent work, it’s fairly rubato. Hey look at that, a musical term! Look it up.
This first piece sounds like neither individual band, but mixes elements of both into something with great potential. It is rather a shame then that this potential is not leveraged for anything like the unexpected wonder of their Boris collaboration Altar.
Western Horn is anchored by a rattling high guitar, while the bass is a kind of shifting amorphous fog. It’s an interesting enough idea, but when they stray into more “melodic” material, I do rather miss the panoramic instrumental scope of Monoliths & Dimensions. This track seems like the foundation of something that doesn’t exist.
Eternal Return – with its achingly melancholic violins – is by far the most overtly Ulver-esque of anything here. Indeed, after about eight minutes of abstract sprawl, it drops all pretence of being anything else when a doomy piano enters and Kristoffer Rygg sings in that deeply earnest way that only Kristoffer Rygg can. It then summarily disintegrates exactly the way an Ulver song would. Sunn O)))’s usual drone work is only used as a textural element here.
Ultimately this album is a little disappointing. It is very much a sum of its elements. As I understand it, most of it was recorded by the two bands holed up in Ulver’s studio 2008 for one day. The fact that it sat on the shelf for 6 years speaks volumes. It is enjoyable, but with the talent involved in this, you can’t help but wonder what could have been if only there had been more opportunities for the two bands to work together on it beyond that first meeting.
Killer artwork though. Just real, real nice.
Here at the End of All Things
If I can take a moment to reflect on this whole thing, I’d be a better writer. In all seriousness though, I have listened to more Sunn O))) than any one man should. But hey I’m better than most men. I guess you could say I’m living in a twenty-first century, doing something mean to it, doing better than anybody you ever seen do it.
In some ways this whole endeavour was a failure, hobbling to the finish line over a year after starting. I never had a firm timeline for it, I guess I kind of thought I’d post one a week. My friend Kenny recently told me I shouldn’t see my specific failures as representing the totality of my life in microcosm, so let’s just say I could have done better and leave it at that.
You know, I’m someone who carries idea baggage. I start a lot of things I don’t finish, and when I do this, I don’t let them go, I carry them with me, and my thoughts aimlessly drift between ideas without anything to anchor them. So when I do finish something, I tend to think of it like I’m fighting entropy in a way. In some ways I like the idea of finishing something and then standing back, looking at it for a few minutes, and then never thinking about it again. It’s incredibly liberating. I’ve got to work on doing that more.
So yeah, the Endurance Runn O))) took a long time and it wasn’t that good; but it is done, and now I can never think about it ever again, and that’s awesome.
Thanks for reading, if you did.