Extraordinary Experience 1.1: Prologue Sunn 0)))
As a child, the first music I remember trying to listen seemed overwhelming. High notes felt piercing, low notes–shaking, rhythm–trance like, and melody out of this world. Now, occasionally I will come across a group of musicians peeking my interest with something I perceive as new or unlike anything I have heard before, but often I simply listen to familiar music of memories.
Sunn 0))) is a group of two musicians (plus guests) that challenges the notion of memories and sound. They were originally formed as an, “Earth,” cover band. Earth also, from the Seattle area as well is known for playing repetitious, slow, and droning music. “Vol 2: Special Low Frequency Version,” (1993) is a prime example of Earth, lasting a full 76 minute CD length for one song. It starts off with 12-16 guitars and basses playing together at once and then goes into a 45 minute ringing of tones that gel together into one harmonic chord expanding indefinitely only to finish the song which ends in a reverse manner just as it started over an hour ago (if one was still paying attention). I have experienced Earth playing in the 90’s: when one member sat in a chair and the other faced his amplifier the whole concert, or when they left the stage and let the amplifiers create the sound just staring at the speakers from the audience, and most fittingly when they never took the stage letting the amplifiers and the sound be the visuals a fitting performance that seemed to signify the end of an era. After a ten year hiatus Earth returned to the amplifiers to create a sound that was now more about the space between the notes than a wall of sound.
Enter Sunn 0))), two guitarists working to produce Earth-like sound, but named after the amplifier that Earth (and their influence the Melvins) use Sunn. Sunn amplifiers were named for the warm-bright tones they produce a buzz so forceful it mimics a a summer Sun ray zapping the skin. Originally when Sunn 0))) began as a group ten years ago they would include parts of Earth’s Vol. 2 song as if resurrecting the seemingly infinite song years later. Sunn 0))) has continued to bring parts of this and other Earth songs over the years while developing ways of harnessing the feedback from the character of these uniquely over-driven amplifiers. Other musicians with eccentric tactics have joined Sunn 0))) to try and mold the solid monolithic and barely moving sound of what might be considered a big humm or ohmm like chant or noise (or noize as the euphemistic spelling). People who were from the Melvins, Earth, Choirs, Jazz musicians, Classical musicians, and Black Metal musicians have joined forces to shape, shift, and move the never-ending beam of Sunn 0)))’s sound.
Describing the sound of Sunn 0))) is a challenge in the sense that it seems that it is mostly about the vibration. The pulsation of the speakers appears never-ending as they push in-and-out without stopping. The sound could be described almost as one sound, even one volume, maybe one note. Perhaps one vibration? It is an ‘Extraordinary Experience’ to engage the sound of Sunn 0))) live, and it is not for everybody. In the next BLOG : “Extraordinary Experience 1.2: Sound of Sunn 0))) Duo Live,” I will reflect on some big questions resulting from the speechless situation tweeted live (please goto Extraordinary Experience 1.0 @: http://twitter.com/aesthetichemist). Is this noise, noize, music, or simply sound?, you decide.