Sunn O))) - "ØØ VOID / The Iron Soul of Nothing" CD Review (Southern Lord) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Friday, January 13, 2012

Sunn O))) - "ØØ VOID / The Iron Soul of Nothing" CD Review (Southern Lord)

Sunn O))) - 'ØØ VOID' CD Review (Southern Lord)Sunn O)))’s newest release, ØØ VOID, brings back into print the band’s second disc, which was recorded in Hollywood in 2000 with producer (and Goatsnake / Kyuss bassist) Scott Reeder and originally issued on Hydra Head.

Like most Southern Lord releases, ØØ VOID is available as a limited edition vinyl pressing (1K on cream colored vinyl / 5K total pressing). There is also a limited 2CD edition of ØØ VOID (1,000 copies) being sold through Southern Lord’s web store that includes a bonus disc that features the ØØ VOID album remixed by Nurse with Wound. (Note: this bonus disc was originally released on the 2CD edition of ØØ VOID that came out on the Japanese label Daymare Recordings in 2008). Stephen O’Malley is also selling a vinyl edition of the Nurse with Wound remixes entitled “The Iron Soul of Nothing” through his new Ideologic Organ label.

ØØ VOID epitomizes the band’s “Maximum Volume Yields Maximum Results” philosophy as the disc is composed of four epic-length (~15 minutes each) tracks of menacing, monolithic drone. Each of the songs moves at a glacial pace and the band builds up layer upon layer of notes and riffs that are held to their limit and then crash like an ocean wave prior to rising again with the next riff. These pieces (I can’t really call them songs) are like aural sculptures that are designed to be felt and experienced so this disc requires a time commitment to really appreciate its power.

For this release, the band is joined by guest bassist Stuart Dahlquist (Burning Witch, Goatsnake) and the disc includes contributions from both Petra Haden (violinist/vocals) and Pete Stahl (vocals). I haven’t pinpointed where Haden’s contributions are woven within this thick sonic tapestry but there are a lot of different layers and dimensions within these recording so different facets become visible after multiple listens. Pete Stahl’s adds ‘vocals’ to “NN O)))” which are buried under waves of buzzing electronics with the end result sounding like a ghost in the machine.

The group approached the compositions of this album in a different way than their previous recordings: each member focused intently on one composition/piece and brought it into the recording session. Then, each of those songs that were brought in were translated to the other members and nuances were worked out, on the spot, in the studio. Greg Anderson (aka The Duke) brought in “NNO)))”, Stephen O’Malley (aka Mk Ultra Blizzard) brought in RA at Dusk, Stuart Dahlquist (aka G.Subharmonia) brought in Richard. The exception to all this was the inclusion of a rendition of a obscure Melvins song called Rabbits Revenge. This song was actually never recorded in the studio by the Melvins and the riffs were salvaged from a live tape that Anderson had of the band playing the Gorilla Gardens in Seattle from March of 1985!”—from

The Nurse with Wound remixes amount to a complete re-working of ØØVOID so there really isn’t a one-to-one mapping between this disc and the original recordings. There is a bit more “light” and ambiance in this reworking and one of the highlights is “Ash on the Trees (The Sudden Ebb of a Diatribe)” where Pete Stahl’s vocals are pulled out from beneath the wall of noise of the original track to become a menacing instrument of unease onto itself.

"In 2007 we commissioned Nurse With Wound to re-work the masters of SUNN O)))’s second album “ØØVOID” to be included as a bonus CD on the Japanese reissue of said album released a year later on Daymare Recordings. We dug up the original 2" reels from the 2000 session, had Mell Dettmer bake the tapes, made the multitrack transfers and send the drive over to IC studios. The initial brief was to hopefully come up with to come up with something in the vein of Nurse’s legendary Soliloquy for Lilith set (my favorite release of the collective). What was returned was way beyond our expectations, completely transformed and rediscovered material, including highlighting formerly obscured vocals of the legendary Pete Stahl (Scream, Wool, Goatsnake). A vast creepy sonic journey some part drone/depth of SUNN O))), other part concrete weirdness of Nurse, third part just downright out there in surreality and obscure referencing." —Stephen O'Malley

Southern Lord