AMN Reviews: Sunn O))) – Life Metal (2019; Southern Lord)

Very few bands are responsible for creating and/or popularizing an entire genre, but Seattle’s Sunn O))) is one of them. Formed over 20 years ago, guitarists Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley utilize a simple formula that they have stuck with since the beginning – strum a heavily distorted chord and hold it into a drone. Throw in some feedback, occasional speed picking, and alternate tunings. Build these elements into long-form tracks. Ignore melodies. That’s about it. There is a Zen to Sunn O))) and you either achieve it or you don’t.

While easy to describe in the abstract, the Sunn O))) approach is anything but monotonous. Instead, Anderson and O’Malley create menacing soundscapes, dense with oppressive atmospherics and slabs of dissonance. Life Metal, the duo’s eighth studio album takes things to another level with subtle assistance from a few collaborators, skillful production qualities, and a somewhat brighter tone.

Consisting of four pieces across its 70 minutes, the album begins with Between Sleipnir’s Breaths, featuring Hildur Guðnadóttir on spoken and chanted vocals. Guðnadóttir also contributes electric cello which blends into the guitar drones. This is followed by Troubled Air, in which Anthony Pateras provides subtle pipe organ themes that anchor the noise walls and feedback. Aurora involves cleaner and faster (yet still ponderous) riffing, while Novae rounds things out with more cello from Guðnadóttir interspersed over its 25 minutes. Various tracks also benefit from contributions from T.O.S. Nieuwenhuizen on Moog and Tim Midyett on bass guitar.

Despite Sunn O)))’s reputation, Life Metal is not 100% in-your-face music. There is a certain thoughtfulness and restraint to the album especially as it nears its end. But if intensity is what you are looking for, there is no shortage of that as well. All of this sums up to an effort that is strange, but also strangely appealing. Not a bad place to start if you have been looking for an excuse to enter the realm of Sunn O))).

A thoroughly enjoyable release.

Chicago Scene: April 27 – May 4, 2019

This is a weekly overview of live avant performances in the Chicago area. Contact us if you’d like your shows listed.

Saturday, April 27th 2019

8:00PM at Graham Foundation (Madlener House), 4 W Burton Pl (Free, RSVP)
James Hoff

Sunday, April 28th 2019

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($15-$10)
a•pe•ri•od•ic (40)
The Music of Heather Frasch/Anne La Berge

Monday, April 29th 2019
7:00PM at Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N Ravenswood, 773.769.1069 ($10)
Anne La Berge, Amanda Schoofs — solos and duo

9:00PM at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont, 773.281.4444
Extraordinary Popular Delusions : Jim Baker, Ed Wilkerson Jr, Brian Sandstrom, Steve Hunt

9:00PM at Elastic, 3429 W Diversey, #208, 773.772.3616 ($10)
Emma Adomeit Trio with Josh Harlow, Emerson Hunton
Kyle McComb Trio with Sarah Clausen, Emma Adomeit
Christoph Erb, Sam Pluta, Jason Roebke

Wednesday, May 1st 2019

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($10)
KHGB : Jim Baker, Paul Giallorenzo, Jason Roebke, Julian Kirshner
Macie Stewart, Jasmine Mendoza

9:00PM at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont ($10) (wheelchair-accessible)
Dan Pierson, Mike Harmon, Avreeayl Ra
Mike Harmon with Greg Tuohey, Dan Pierson, Matt Carroll — Album release

Thursday, May 2nd 2019

7:00PM at the Logan Center Performance Penthouse, 915 E 60th, 773.702.ARTS (Free)
CHIMEFest 2019
Ann La Berge, Ted Moore, Katherine Young, Weston Olencki, Matt Barbier, Lauren Sarah Hayes — music by Ann La Berge, Sam Pluta, Baldwin Giang, and improvisations

9:00PM at Elastic, 3429 W Diversey, #208, 773.772.3616 ($10)
Exposure Series 2019
Carol Genetti, Claire Rousay
Ava Mendoza Solo
Forbes Graham, Angel Bat Dawid, Lia Kohl, Kent Kessler

Friday, May 3rd 2019

7:00PM at Corbett vs Dempsey, 2156 W Fulton (Free)
Ken Vandermark, Nate Wooley

7:00PM at the Logan Center Performance Penthouse, 915 E 60th, 773.702.ARTS (Free)
CHIMEFest 2019
Pedro Lopes, Katie Schoepflin Jimoh, Jeff Snyder, Anne La Berge, Sam Pluta, Ben Lamar Gay — music by Pierre Alexandre Tremblay, Alex Harker, Darlene Castro, and improvisations

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($20-$15)
Chicago Jazz String Summit
Gordon Grdina’s The Marrow with Hank Roberts, Mat Maneri, Hamin Honari
In the Sea : Joshua Zubot, Tristan Honsinger, Nicolas Caloia
Akua Dixon

9:00PM at Elastic, 3429 W Diversey, #208, 773.772.3616 ($10)
Exposure Series 2019
Ava Mendoza, Dave Rempis
Forbes Graham Solo
Claire Rousay, Katinka Kleijn, Graham Stephenson

Saturday, May 4th 2019

2:00PM at the May Chapel at Rosehill Cemetery, 5800 N Ravenswood (Free)
Exposure Series 2019
Forbes Graham, Tomeka Reid
Claire Rousay Solo
Ava Mendoza, Forbes Graham, Joshua Abrams, Tyler Damon

For more information, such as directions, as well as upcoming performances, see:

http://now-is.org/, http://www.ratchetmusic.com, http://www.mcachicago.org, http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_culturalcenterschedule.html, http://www.skylarkchicago.com, http://www.hideoutchicago.com, http://www.elasticrevolution.com, http://www.myopicbookstore.com/music.html, http://www.lampo.org, http://dalniente.com, http://iceorg.org/events/category/chicago, http://www.emptybottle.com/

Maryanne Amacher Review and Profile

Source: 4Columns.

History tends to remember the composers and musicians who left behind voluminous discographies. Other composers, who were just as significant, remain more enigmatic because their output is harder to track down.

Maryanne Amacher, who died in 2009 at the age of seventy-one, was a shining example of the latter: a towering figure in experimental music who released few recordings. While she left an expansive private archive, spanning several decades, in her rambling home in Kingston, New York, there haven’t been many releases that the general public could find, outside of two albums (Sound Characters and Sound Characters Vol. 2, both on the Tzadik label) and a few scattered appearances on compilations.

Jazzword Reviews 

Source: Jazzword.

Bucket of Blood
By Steve Potts with Michel Edelin

2000
Plant

Gebhard Ullmann & Basement Research
Impromtus and Other Short Works

Jameel Moondoc Quartet
The Astral Revelations

Anders Lindsjö & Martin Küchen
The Stork & The Chimp

David Stackenäs & Klaus Ellerhusen Holm
Dayton’s Bluff

Benjamin Finger/James Plotkin/Mia Zabelka
Pleasure-Voltage

Trio Blurb
W

A Guide to the Discography of Diamanda Galás

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

When I spoke with avant-garde legend Diamanda Galás in 2017, she had some understandably harsh words for critics who fail to understand both the deep and intense emotional veins running through her discography as well as the actual musical history behind her work. “People who do not know anything about music—notably, most music critics—really should equip themselves with the changes of the original song and realize that every single one of the chord changes I use are connected to the original chord changes,” she said, speaking about misinterpretations of her performance of Thelonious Monk’s “‘Round Midnight” on All the Way. “It is not a bunch of keys falling down the stairs, and it is not someone who uses the song to her own ends only to destroy it and desecrate it and dismember it.”