A sporadically-updated music collection blog. Send questions to twitter or email me.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Guest Post: Tom

Yes, it's that time again. I've finally managed to convince someone else to write me a guest post. I've been bothering a few people about this for a while now, and Tom (who you can find on twitter to tell him how rad this is) has delivered with a lovely post for your enjoyment.

(p.s. I've got a bunch of things sat waiting to be posted about, I'll catch up on them soon I promise)

Sunn O))) – Monoliths and Dimensions 
I was going to write about something else but then this came through the post for me earlier today, and since it's such an aesthetically pleasing little package I changed my mind. It's Monoliths and Dimensions, the most recent album proper by Seattle's Sunn O))). 
I think quite a lot of people find this band's music unnerving or even scary, and that's probably because it is. However, ever since this record's release I've found myself increasingly drawn in to the mystery and darkness of the band's long, drawn out passages of incredibly slow and heavy atonality. What started that off was seeing them live at ATP back in December 2009, nothing short of an utterly mindblowing (and indeed earblowing), hypnotic experience. On this album their sound became considerably fuller and more experimental, featuring a choir, strings, horns, Attila Csihar (from black metal pioneers Mayhem) and a ton of other new instrumentation. Anyway, let's take a look. 
The packaging takes the form of a gatefold cover with a jacket of that translucent tracing paper stuff with the logo and album name printed on, which I think is pretty cool really, especially when you flip it over to look at what's on the back. 

I don't really know what this drawing is but it's quite intriguing, and there are also the words "SOLID BLACK" which I guess is a fairly accurate representation of the music itself. Now to open this thing up and check out what's in the middle. 

This is quite a nice swirly patterny thing, up close it looks like feathers and/or trees or something like that. I also like those two little pictures on this side of the tracing paper stuff. That is a nice touch. 

Now we take off that paper and look at the actual cover. My trusty pal Wikipedia tells me that this is the painting "Out-Of-Round X" by Richard Serra, the artist best known for his minimalist sculptures. I really, really like it, and again think it serves as a wonderful visual representation of Sunn O)))'s sound - dark, mysterious, huge yet deceptively subtle. It seems that they're very aware of how the visual and the aural can be used together in such a way that they compliment each other, which is exactly what great album artwork should be all about. 

Yes, it's a double LP, which in itself makes me feel giddy with excitement, but even better, we're treated to more artwork, this time somewhat grainy and "messed around with" photographs of the band members doing what they love best: dressing up in robes and hanging in the woods. I find this whole side to Sunn O))) a strange mixture of sinister and comical. Not to knock it though, it's certainly more appropriate for the kind of band they are to look like this than a bunch of dudes in jeans and hoodies or something. The accompanying booklet (mostly quite plain so I won't bother with a picture) folds out into a picture of them robing it up yet again. Nice. 

And finally we come to the records themselves. I'd half expected something a bit more elaborate to fit in with the rather lavish packaging, but nope, just plain black here. Then again, given the band we're dealing with here, any other colour might have been equally unexpected for different reasons. So never mind. Much as I love coloured vinyl I don't think a lack of it will prevent this from becoming one of the records I'm happiest to own.

Awesome stuff, thanks a lot Tom.