For as many records as I own, and the multiple digital releases I get and am sent based on this site, there’s so much music that takes up my time and enriches my life. But as great as all of that is, there are some bands, some artists that have to be witnessed live in order for the experience to be fully understood. Without it, even their recorded works are missing something, that being their true essence.
Whether or not you like them or even get them, do yourself a favor and see Sunn 0))) the next chance you get. You’ll never forget it. You might not even make it through the entire thing because your body is put to the test at their shows, and most people in the crowd are standing in awe. If there’s a pit at a Sunn 0))) show, someone fucked up. I say that as I get ready to discuss “Metta, Benevolence BBC6 Music: Live on the Invitation of Mary Anne Hobbs,” the new collection that was recorded after an October 2019 tour in the UK supporting “Life Metal” and “Pyroclast.” They were invited by Hobbs for her show Samhain on BBC6, and the result is something that’ll resonate with any Sunn 0))) fan, but even more so if you’ve ever experienced them live. There’s a spiritual understanding, a connection where you might hear and absorb elements like you were there. The long-standing duo of Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson were joined by Anna von Hausswolff (voice and Nord C2D synthesizer), Tos Nieuwenhuizen (Moog Rogue synthesizer), Stephen Moore (trombone, Roland Junior-106 [mod] & Nord Stage [gaffed black] synthesizers), and Tim Midyett (electric bass guitar, Roland Juno-106 synthesizer) to flesh out three tracks that exist in completely different form on this collection, making these unique takes that only live here, birthed that day. It’s just mind blowing.
“Pyroclasts F” dawns in a full buzz that swallows the room, guitars open, and the power slowly rumbles, shaking everything. Von Hausswolff’s calls echo in the background as the sound beams fold, and the tensions tugs, feeling like the actual sun is blazing through walls. More howls penetrate as fires are agitated, guitars simmer, and the track ducks out into dusk. “Pyroclasts C#” slips in over the horizon, and what feels like a chorus of cicadas swarming settles into your consciousness. Glorious keys cause you to shield your eyes as space wooshes send stardust, while the voices warble, and the wandering souls in the room have a place to hide. The organs give off a pastoral essence as mystical vibes increase, the doom drone begins to tunnel into the earth, and vibrations are so thick that it’ll feel like you’re in the room, your eardrums begging for mercy.
“Troubled Air” is an extended 31:47-long version of the track, starting with guitars scorching, the organs melting, and the sharpened blades working toward your end. The playing suddenly takes on a glow, glistening in the morning air, cosmically rolling into a new version of itself that’s constantly morphing. Moore’s trombone reaches over the blackness, bathing in jazzy weirdness as the sounds fill every molecule in the place, guitars meeting up and ringing vibrantly. Noises reverberate as every element piles on top of each other, scrapes and crashes take chunks from your flesh, and your entire body convulses with the dark energy, leaving you feeling warm and rejuvenated.
Sunn 0))) and their co-conspirators took to John Peel studios and did his legend proud, leaving their mark forever and spreading their drone gospel to a new swath of people. “Metta, Benevolence BBC6 Music: Live on the Invitation of Mary Anne Hobbs” is something every one of the band’s fans should have in their collection, an essential reinterpretation of their own tracks (which every one of their live shows is anyway) as this one captured moments in time that can be relived well into the future. This is a genuflection in front of the majesty of sound that these musicians hold in their palms.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/SUNNthebandOfficial
To buy the album, go here: https://southernlord.com/store/
For more on the label, go here: https://southernlord.com/