Extraordinary Experience 1.2: Sound of Sunn 0))) Duo Live
The lights go out and the only thing visible is a few small flickers through the amplifier grills. The stage fills with fog machines from the floor on each side and in the center. Waiting…waiting…the room quiets. With the blackness of the space and the density of the fog it is getting increasingly challenging to see.
A sharp shrill feedback of a guitar transitions into a squeal and then the first chord flooding the room with slow motion vibrations. The initial surge of pressure of the chord is a relief from the high pitch shrieks to the ears. Leaning into the stage, my body, and the floor are undulating in a vibration that feels like a helicopter has been turned off in front of ones body. The thrust of the first chord is a low frequency combined with the black fogginess of the room approximates having a large warm but soft waterfall being turned on instantaneously overhead. The sensation is encapsulating continuing gradually over the course of a minute as undulations appear to slightly space apart and become a lower frequency. The chord is (IMHO) as much if not more engaging the kinesthetic senses than the acoustic if one tried to separate them.
A single green light scans the stage occasionally passing over and revealing a partial silehoutte of one of the two guitarists veiled in black hooded robes. Waiting…waiting for the next shower of sound to occur it finally does feeling as intense as the first. The vibrations saturate my skin, hair, organs, brain, and entire body inside and out. It is as if my nerves and blood are moving around but not sure how to respond to the new sensation, I touch my arm feeling my outer-body acknowledging the inter-shake. It feels unfamiliar yet soothing having an all-over massage. At times I focus on the feeling of my body and at other times I try listening to the sound. Changing my body’s direction it feels like the vibrations are surrounding me from all directions with little orientation in the rooms darkness. The sound is LOUD but given the relative penetration of the vibrations to the area of the room it is curious how thunderously quiet it is for how dense and much volume the vibrations consume.
Patiently, here comes another wave of guitar chords now wobbling in one place like washing-machine slowing down with everything in it on one side. The wobbling gives a different sensation of both slow and fast time rather than just decelerating. The process of these chords repeats and I wait for it to end. The vibrations are constant and I imagine them as infinite as if they might never stop. It is like the sound has no relief, it is relentless. No breaks or change in volume and decibels is slight. People are leaving the room. Increasingly I wonder what am I doing here? Usually, I go to a concert to listen to music, however, I really am not doing that, or am I? Is feeling the music without much listening an appropriate response, seems logical to me, but should I be listening, or is this a different form of listening? Not to mention the issue that I have just called this ‘music’ which it seems to be closer to a Swedish massage than music and it feels too structured to be noise. Maybe this is a manifestation of pure abstraction…
Another long pause as the guitarists seem to hold a note that starts ringing in increasingly faster cycles until the sound appears to twists into a single repeating constant solid beaming note. The ray-like zapper-buzzing sound is almost in between the monolithic bass heavy chord waves and the high pitch treble shrills. It is like a balance of physical and acoustic aspects of the vibration but its constant nature appears like the sound stopped or flat-lined as it has honed in on this one point. As the sound closes in it seems as if it is going away or perhaps about to cease. It is speeding up into a razor-sharp blade at lightning speed. The accelerating line of sound appears motionless and constant almost a rest, break, or even silence but at the usual volumet. I scream to see if I can hear myself. My vocal chords vibrate but little sound is able to exit the already densely filled vibrations of the room.
The thin band of sound slows as the stage becomes a cloud-like fog with a blue light pulsating from the middle. I imagine the pulses emerging from a planck-like energy from within the intensely focused beam of high speed sound. The slow duration between the waves of sound seems to slow things down even further, if that is possible. The pulse of my body is even decreasing closer to the rhythm of the sound. At times I will look at my watch at take inventory of how much time has passed, sometimes if feels like seconds and other times an eternity.
The vibrations of the individual guitars appear to oscillate in opposite directions as one of them accelerates in a vibration and frequency moving into a higher pitch and the the other one decelarates slowing in a lower pitch. Time seems to converge at the moment when the slow and the fast meet in the middle of the vibrations for an instant. Then the notes expand in opposite directions moving the vibrations throughout the room from different speakers. The sounds appears to sometimes echo one another and at other moments they seem to be a be a far off indicator of the vibration about to occur. Compared to the initial mammoth vibrations the sound is becoming increasingly dimensional and expanding from its monolithic origins.
As the fog decreases and the stage lights up a soft red revealing the robed musicians waving their instruments at their speakers. The vibrations of the feedback appear noise-like until I realize they are a compendium of the initial screeching that began the show, large waves, low-pulsating rumbles, beam-like zappers, and other undulating rhythms that I have not focused on. Separating the sounds is challenging as they weave among one another in a chaotic fusion of random jazziness. The musicians remove their instruments and holding the amplifiers channeling the feedback by moving the knobs and shifting the sound around the room. Eventually, the robed conductors depress the power switch and the speakers go silent. My body still shaking for about ten seconds, I imagine the sound continuing on. What just happened? How much of the concert have I really been paying attention to and how much of it did I simply imagine or miss during a meditative drift? What now?…tomorrow the second night of the show…to be continued!