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Monoliths And Dimensions
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Monoliths And Dimensions
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First off, this album still has the churning, heavy, droning, all-encompassing bass violence we've come to expect from Sunn O))). The downtuned chords still drone ad infinitum. Maximum volume still yields maximum results. But what we get here is an even greater expanded sense of dynamic contrast that was alluded to on their most recent live effort, Dømkirke. Guest vocalist (and frequent Sunn O))) collaborator) Attila Csihar's monologues come off like a Hungarian Vincent Price at his most dark and unsettling.
Some of the most remarkable moments on this album though come not from O'Malley and Anderson or their core collaborators, but from the arrangements by composer Eyvind Kang. The band expressed early on prior to the release that the goal was to allude to "the timbre of feedback," and Kang's arrangements capture this perfectly. The line is often blurred between real feedback coming from the Guitars and Basses and the illusory feedback provided by the strings, horns and women's chamber choir. Of course, this expanded instrumentation does more than just that. The orchestral arrangements can be breathtaking, particularly in the album's closing piece, "Alice," where the chamber group and legendary trombonist Julian Priester swirl around one another to dazzling effect. It brings to mind what might happen if Aaron Copland's "prairie nationalism" were slowed down to a crawl and successfully combined with American Free Jazz.
This album is a masterpiece of experimental composition and a testament to the beauty that is possible in the "drone metal" genre. Get this, crank it up and lose yourself.
Until now. My first reaction was more invitational than off-putting. Not that this is alienating music by any right but there was a newfound warmth and vibrancy to the sounds here. The band themselves have stated that this album isn't just "Sunn with strings" and they couldn't be more right. The first piece has to be heard to be believed. It doesn't get more visceral than that. I just started imagining ancient buildings, dilapidation, stinging cold and malicious men in dark robes. The second piece (I hesitate calling these "songs" in any traditional sense) hit me right in the gut. Sprawling chords fused with the most haunting of minor key vocal choirs makes its ten minute run-time feel too brief. By this time I'm convinced this is their finest work to date and by the time the album is over when the guitars have faded into a lulling sonic sphere of brass, bells and even a harp and it's the most serene moment to be found on just about anything I've heard in the last few years I just have to say, this is amazing. It takes a certain measure of talent to fill you with dread one moment and peace the next. Sunn O ))) have this talent. I need to see them live!
"Monoliths and Dimensions" could have easily collapsed under the weight of all this collaboration but the change brings out the best in the band. Opener "Aghartha" is a plodding 17-minute epic that ominously oozes into the listener's brain as Attila Csihar intones about the creation of a new Earth. "Big Church" follows and feels like a ghostly soundtrack to a forgotten Italian horror film. Choirs envelope the surrounding drone while a chant begins another invocation. A guitar breaks the invocation like a scythe before the choir returns ratcheting up the tension to almost unbearable levels. "Hunting & Gathering" offers all the drama of good black metal. Crunchy guitars mesh next to heavy keys and bells. The most unexpected song on here is "Alice" an almost ambient piece resolved by the jazzy tones of Julian Priester's trombones. As "Monoliths and Dimensions" closes, it becomes obvious that Sunn O))) are standing at the precipice of a new form of unsympathetically heavy and intelligent metal. Somewhere, something is smiling from the abyss.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
More and more it seems possible to overgrow the sometimes deep valley between the classical role of the distorted guitar (as a concept of screaming attention) and the intelligence... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Roelof Broekman
This album is one of the most unique heavy albums I've heard, and as I'm a metal fan and overall fan of rock, jazz and blues for decades, now at the fossilized age of 55, that's... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Scott Hedegard
Monoliths & Dimensions might be the most aptly named album in my discography. Hypnotically slow chord progressions and huge sounds create a compelling landscape. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Friendly Violence
The record starts with what is apparently the sound of an idling tractor and only becomes less interesting after that. The vocals are mawkish and the music goes nowhere. Read morePublished on July 12, 2014 by Ryan An
Let me start by saying that I am very open-minded musically speaking. I enjoy a lot of experimental music that most people would probably not care for.
Having said that..... Read more
monoliths and Dimensions is a pretty sweet album Sunn o))) did a good job on this album though it only has four tracks but its all worth it this album is a masterpiece.Published on July 11, 2013 by Warren
I ordered Monoliths & Dimensions along with Black One, also by Sunn. Both are beautifully made albums. This one certainly is a high point for the band. Read morePublished on February 5, 2013 by Jacob B.
Great album and great quality LP. Sides have different speeds. One side 45rpm, one side 33rpm on each disc. Very nice packaging and art as well. Glad I bought it.Published on November 28, 2012 by Jer M