Sunn O))): Pyroclasts 12"

Sunn O))): Pyroclasts 12"

Tags: · 10s · drone · spo-default · spo-disabled · stoner metal
Southern Lord
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Now in its sixth year, Ten Bands One Cause returns in 2019 with a new set of ten artists issuing their albums on pink colored vinyl LP to help raise cancer awareness, in support of Gilda's Club NYC - named after comedian Gilda Radner, who passed away from cancer at the age of 43 in 1989. This year's limited pink vinyl are from John Prine, Third Eye Blind, Spiritualized, Sunn O))), Amanda Palmer, Courtney Marie Andrews, Mark Lanegan, Saves The Day, Colter Wall and Lacuna Coil.


The Pyroclasts album is the result of a daily practice which was regularly performed each morning, or evening during the two week Life Metal sessions at Electrical Audio during July 2018, when all of the days musical participants would gather and work through a 12 minute improvised modal drone at the start and or end of the day's work. The piece performed was timed with a stopwatch and tracked to two inch tape, it was an exercise and a chance to dig into a deep opening or closing of the days session in a deep musical way with all of the participants. To connect/reconnect, liberate the creative mind a bit and greet each other and the space through the practice of sound immersion. The players across the four pieces of Pyroclasts are Tim Midyett, T.O.S., Hildur Guðnadóttir, and as always Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson.


The music on Pyroclasts is inextricably woven to Life Metal. It exists on the very same tape reels, was explicitly recorded by Steve Albini. The brightness and vividity of that glorious session glares through these four tracks, the precision and radiance, prismatic lustrousness of the saturation, the elemental sculptural shapes, the abstract renderings. It is a sister, or perhaps a shadow album. Or perhaps the now apparent miasma or aether. But it also exists in a form of a pause, a time space which exist in between and around the compositional structures of Sunn O)))'s titanic works.


For the listener or recipient/participant there are deep rewards within the patience of pulling down the walls and letting the music feel, and feel the music. To be immersed will reveal great detail and colour, clarify image, encourage a depth of focus and stillness which may lead to a quite profound experience. Sitting inside the space of time. A deep form of elementalism, even atomism, and connection with presence moment, time and reality. Sunn O))) would invite their audience to consider these points of perception when experiencing and listening to Pyroclasts. Sunn O))) would also invite and encourage the audience to use Pyroclasts as a lens to review and reexperience the complexity of the Life Metal album, and even to interrupt its sequence with Pyroclasts. This elaboration can bring the astute listener both abyssal, hallowed rewards.


Pyroclasts was recorded and mixed by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio on two inch tape July 2018, and mastered by Matt Colton through all analogue AAA process at Metropolis July 2019. Four of Samantha Keely Smith's incredible consciousness memory landscape paintings grace the album sleeve.

Our take: I should preface this by saying that I am hardly an expert on Sunn. While I’ve listened to them over the years and enjoyed it, I couldn't tell you how Pyroclasts differs from any of the other records in their extensive catalog or what it brings to the table that's new. However, I can tell you I like Pyroclasts. As ever, I appreciate Sunn on two levels. The first is a visceral level; I love how their music seems to bypass my ears and go straight to my gut. Even more than something like Black Sabbath, they make music that you feel in your bowels, and there’s a physical pleasure in turning up the volume loud and letting it wash over you. However, I also appreciate Sunn on a conceptual level. I love how Sunn distills their music to pure sound. It reminds me that much of what I think about in music—rhythms, harmonies, melodies—is abstract and intellectual. Sunn seems to ask, “what is music anyway?” If you’re a Sunn dabbler like me, Pyroclasts is a solid pickup as it provides what I want from a Sunn record, and its meticulous production (recorded by Steve Albini and pressed with an all-analogue process, unlike 99.9% of the records produced today) ensures that it’s as warm, rich, and clear as it can be. Also, this limited pink vinyl pressing is a benefit for Gilda’s Club NYC, an organization that provides community support for both those diagnosed with cancer and their caretakers.