Peaceful holidays folks... enjoy:
CVMNSKLL 1208 Holy-daze mix
15 tracks // 58:21 // 74.7mb
Summoning Redemption / Morbid Angel / Gateways To Annihilation / 07:17
An Elizabethan Devil Worshipper's Prayer Book / Mystifier / Goetia / 06:09
Wings Of Funeral ('87) / Morbid / 03:49
Lord Of All Unclean Spirits / Ondskapt / Dödens Evangelium / 05:05
Shadows That Pray To Asurah / Mortem / De Natura Daemonum / 01:22
Storming Through Red Clouds And Holocaustwinds / Immortal / Pure Holocaust / 04:39
Shreds of Flesh ('89) / Entombed / 02:10
Volkanik Violence / Sadistik Exekution / K.A.O.S. / 02:48
On Darkened Wings / Marduk / Those Of The Unlight / 04:15
Evil Warriors / Possessed / Seven Churches / 03:44
Blasphemies Of The Flesh ('89) / Dismember / 03:54
Kazdy Z Nas...! / Master's Hammer / Ritual / 03:31
Brutality + Krishna Extrema ('89) / Nirvana 2002 / 02:26
Apostasies Legions Arise, XUL! / Nazxul / Black Seed / 04:01
Evil Blasphemies / Nifelheim / Servants of darkness / 03:17
A History of Music Torture in the War on Terror
Hit Me Baby One More Time
By ANDY WORTHINGTON
There’s an ambiguous undercurrent to the catchy pop smash that introduced a pig-tailed Britney Spears to the world in 1999 -- so much so that Jive Records changed the song’s title to “… Baby One More Time” after executives feared that it would be perceived as condoning domestic violence.
It’s a safe bet, however, that neither Britney nor songwriter Max Martin ever anticipated that this undercurrent would be picked up on by U.S. military personnel, when they were ordered to keep prisoners awake by blasting ear-splittingly loud music at them -- for days, weeks or even months on end -- at prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay.
The message, as released Guantánamo prisoner Ruhal Ahmed explained in an interview earlier this year, was less significant than the relentless, inescapable noise. Describing how he experienced music torture “on many occasions,” Ahmed said, “I can bear being beaten up, it's not a problem. Once you accept that you're going to go into the interrogation room and be beaten up, it's fine. You can prepare yourself mentally. But when you're being psychologically tortured, you can't.” He added, however, that “from the end of 2003 they introduced the music and it became even worse. Before that, you could try and focus on something else. It makes you feel like you are going mad. You lose the plot and it’s very scary to think that you might go crazy because of all the music, because of the loud noise, and because after a while you don’t hear the lyrics at all, all you hear is heavy banging.”
Despite this, the soldiers, who were largely left to their own devices when choosing what to play, frequently selected songs with blunt messages -- “Fuck Your God” by Deicide, for example, which is actually an anti-Christian rant, but one whose title would presumably cause consternation to believers in any religion -- even though, for prisoners not used to Western rock and rap music, the music itself was enough to cause them serious distress. When CIA operatives spoke to ABC News in November 2005, as part of a ground-breaking report into the use of waterboarding and other torture techniques on “high-value detainees” held in secret prisons, they reported that, when prisoners were forced to listen to Eminem's Slim Shady album, “The music was so foreign to them it made them frantic.” And in May 2003, when the story first broke that music was being used by U.S. PsyOps teams in Iraq, Sgt. Mark Hadsell, whose favored songs were said to be “Bodies” by Drowning Pool and “Enter the Sandman” by Metallica, told Newsweek, “These people haven’t heard heavy metal. They can’t take it.”
Approval for the use of music torture in the “War on Terror”
Depending on people’s musical tastes, responses to reports that music has been used to torture prisoners often produces flippant comments along the lines of, “If I had to listen to David Gray’s ‘Babylon’/ the theme tune from Barney the Purple Dinosaur/ Christina Aguilera, I’d be crying ‘torture’ too.” But the truth, sadly, is far darker, as Sgt. Hadsell explained after noting that prisoners in Iraq had a problem with heavy metal music. “If you play it for 24 hours,” Hadsell said, “your brain and body functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down and your will is broken. That’s when we come in and talk to them.”
Hadsell, like senior figures in the administration, was blithely unconcerned that “breaking” prisoners, rather than finding ways of encouraging them to cooperate, was not to best way to secure information that was in any way reliable, but the PsyOps teams were not alone. In September 2003, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the U.S. military commander in Iraq, approved the use of music as part of a package of measures for use on captured prisoners “to create fear, disorient … and prolong capture shock,” and as is spelled out in an explosive new report by the Senate Armed Services Committee into the torture and abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody (PDF), the use of music was an essential part of the reverse engineering of techniques, known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE), which are taught in U.S. military schools to train personnel to resist interrogation. The report explains:
During the resistance phase of SERE training, U.S. military personnel are exposed to physical and psychological pressures … designed to simulate conditions to which they might be subject if taken prisoner by enemies that did not abide by the Geneva Conventions. As one … instructor explained, SERE training is “based on illegal exploitation (under the rules listed in the 1949 Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War) of prisoners over the last 50 years.” The techniques used in SERE school, based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean war to elicit false confessions, include stripping detainees of their clothing, placing them in stress positions, putting hoods over their heads, disrupting their sleep, treating them like animals, subjecting them to loud music and flashing lights, and exposing them to extreme temperatures. It can also include face and body slaps, and until recently, for some who attended the Navy’s SERE school, it included waterboarding.
The Senate Committee’s report, which lays the blame for the implementation of these policies on senior officials, including President George W. Bush, former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former legal counsel (and now chief of staff) David Addington, and former Pentagon general counsel William J. Haynes II, makes it clear not only that the use of music is part of a package of illegal techniques, but also that at least part of its rationale, according to the Chinese authorities who implemented it, was that it secured false confessions, rather than the “actionable intelligence” that the U.S. administration was seeking.
The experiences of Binyam Mohamed and Donald Vance
In case any doubt remains as to the pernicious effects of music torture, consider the following comments by Binyam Mohamed, a British resident, still held in Guantánamo, who was tortured in Morocco for 18 months on behalf of the CIA, and was then tortured for another four months in the CIA’s “Dark Prison” in Kabul, and Donald Vance, a U.S. military contractor in Iraq, who was subjected to music torture for 76 days in 2006.
Speaking to his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the legal action charity Reprieve, Mohamed, like Ruhal Ahmed, explained how psychological torture was worse than the physical torture he endured in Morocco, where the CIA’s proxy torturers regularly cut his penis with a razorblade. “Imagine you are given a choice,” he said. “Lose your sight or lose your mind.”
In Morocco, music formed only a small part of Mohammed’s torture. Towards the end of his 18-month ordeal, he recalled that his captors “cuffed me and put earphones on my head. They played hip-hop and rock music, very loud. I remember they played Meatloaf and Aerosmith over and over. I hated that. They also played 2Pac, “All Eyez On Me,” all night and all day … A couple of days later they did the same thing. Same music. I could not take the headphones off as I was cuffed. I had to sleep with the music on and even pray with it.”
At the “Dark Prison,” however, which was otherwise a plausible recreation of a medieval dungeon, in which prisoners were held in complete darkness and were often chained to the walls by their wrists, the use of music was relentless. As Mohamed explained:
It was pitch black, and no lights on in the rooms for most of the time … They hung me up for two days. My legs had swollen. My wrists and hands had gone numb … There was loud music, Slim Shady and Dr. Dre for 20 days. I heard this non-stop over and over, I memorized the music, all of it, when they changed the sounds to horrible ghost laughter and Halloween sounds. It got really spooky in this black hole … Interrogation was right from the start, and went on until the day I left there. The CIA worked on people, including me, day and night. Plenty lost their minds. I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and the doors, screaming their heads off … Throughout my time I had all kinds of music, and irritating sounds, mentally disturbing. I call it brainwashing.
Vance’s story demonstrates not only that the practice of using music as torture was being used as recently as 2006, but also that it was used on Americans. When his story first broke in December 2006, the New York Times reported that he “wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the FBI about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading,” but that “when American soldiers raided the company at his urging, Mr. Vance and another American who worked there were detained as suspects by the military, which was unaware that Mr. Vance was an informer.”
Vance, who was held at Camp Cropper, explained that he was routinely subjected to sleep deprivation, taken for interrogation in the middle of the night, and held in a cell that was permanently lit by fluorescent lights. He added, “At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor.” Speaking to the Associated Press last week, he explained that the use of music as torture “can make innocent men go mad,” and added more about the use of music during his imprisonment, stating that he was “locked in an overcooled 9-foot-by-9-foot cell that had a speaker with a metal grate over it. Two large speakers stood in the hallway outside.” The music, he said, “was almost constant, mostly hard rock. There was a lot of Nine Inch Nails, including ‘March of the Pigs.’ I couldn't tell you how many times I heard Queen's ‘We Will Rock You.’” He added that the experience “sort of removes you from you. You can no longer formulate your own thoughts when you're in an environment like that.”
After his release, Vance stated that he planned to sue former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on the basis that his constitutional rights had been violated, and noted, “Saddam Hussein had more legal counsel than I ever had.” He added that he had written a letter to the camp’s commander “stating that the same democratic ideals we are trying to instill in the fledgling democratic country of Iraq, from simple due process to the Magna Carta, we are absolutely, positively refusing to follow ourselves.”
Musicians take action
Last week, Reprieve launched a new initiative, Zero dB (against music torture), aimed at encouraging musicians to take a stand against the use of their music as torture. This is not the first time that musicians have been encouraged to speak out. In June, Clive Stafford Smith raised the issue in the Guardian, and when, in an accompanying article, the Guardian noted that David Gray’s song “Babylon” had become associated with the torture debate after Haj Ali, the hooded man in the notorious Abu Ghraib photographs, told of being stripped, handcuffed and forced to listen to a looped sample of the song, at a volume so high he feared that his head would burst, Gray openly condemned the practice. “The moral niceties of whether they're using my song or not are totally irrelevant,” he said. “We are thinking below the level of the people we're supposed to oppose, and it goes against our entire history and everything we claim to represent. It's disgusting, really. Anything that draws attention to the scale of the horror and how low we've sunk is a good thing.”
In a subsequent interview with the BBC, Gray complained that the only part of the torture music story that got noticed was its “novelty aspect” -- which he compared to Guantánamo[‘s] Greatest Hits -- and then delivered another powerful indictment of the misappropriation of his and other artists’ music. “What we’re talking about here is people in a darkened room, physically inhibited by handcuffs, bags over their heads and music blaring at them for 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “That is torture. That is nothing but torture. It doesn’t matter what the music is -- it could be Tchaikovsky’s finest or it could be Barney the Dinosaur. It really doesn’t matter, it’s going to drive you completely nuts.” He added, “No-one wants to even think about it or discuss the fact that we’ve gone above and beyond all legal process and we’re torturing people.”
Not every musician shared David Gray’s revulsion. Bob Singleton, who wrote the theme tune to Barney the Purple Dinosaur, which has been used extensively in the “War on Terror,” acknowledged in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times in July that “if you blare the music loud enough for long enough, I guess it can become unbearable,” but refused to accept either that songwriters can legitimately have any say about how their music is used, or that there were any circumstances under which playing music relentlessly at prisoners could be considered torture. “It's absolutely ludicrous,” he wrote. “A song that was designed to make little children feel safe and loved was somehow going to threaten the mental state of adults and drive them to the emotional breaking point?” He added, “The idea that repeating a song will drive someone over the brink of emotional stability, or cause them to act counter to their own nature, makes music into something like voodoo, which it is not.”
Singleton was not the only artist to misunderstand how music could indeed constitute torture -- especially when used as part of a package of techniques specifically designed to “break” prisoners. Steve Asheim, Deicide’s drummer, said, “These guys are not a bunch of high school kids. They are warriors, and they're trained to resist torture. They're expecting to be burned with torches and beaten and have their bones broken. If I was a prisoner at Guantánamo Bay and they blasted a load of music at me, I'd be like, ‘Is this all you got? Come on.’ I certainly don't believe in torturing people, but I don't believe that playing loud music is torture either.”
Furthermore, other musicians have been positively enthusiastic about the use of their music. Stevie Benton of Drowning Pool, who have played to U.S. troops in Iraq, told Spin magazine, “People assume we should be offended that somebody in the military thinks our song is annoying enough that played over and over it can psychologically break someone down. I take it as an honor to think that perhaps our song could be used to quell another 9/11 attack or something like that.”
Fortunately, for those who understand that using music as part of a system of torture techniques is no laughing matter, the Zero dB initiative provides the most noticeable attempt to date to call a halt to its continued use. Christopher Cerf, who wrote the music for Sesame Street, was horrified to learn that the show’s theme tune had been used in interrogations. “I wouldn't want my music to be a party to that,” he said.
Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine has been particularly outspoken in denouncing the use of music as torture. In 2006, he also spoke to Spin magazine, and explained, “The fact that our music has been co-opted in this barbaric way is really disgusting. If you're at all familiar with ideological teachings of the band and its support for human rights, that's really hard to stand.” On this year’s world tour, Rage Against the Machine regularly turned up on stage wearing hoods and Guantánamo-orange jumpsuits, and during a recent concert in San Francisco, Morello proposed taking revenge on President George W. Bush: “I suggest that they level Guantánamo Bay, but they keep one small cell and they put Bush in there ... and they blast some Rage Against the Machine.”
And on December 11, just after the Zero dB initiative was announced, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails posted the following message on his blog:
It’s difficult for me to imagine anything more profoundly insulting, demeaning and enraging than discovering music you’ve put your heart and soul into creating has been used for purposes of torture. If there are any legal options that can be realistically taken they will be aggressively pursued, with any potential monetary gains donated to human rights charities. Thank GOD this country has appeared to side with reason and we can put the Bush administration’s reign of power, greed, lawlessness and madness behind us.
Even James Hetfield of Metallica, who has generally been portrayed as a defender of the U.S. military’s use of his band’s music, has expressed reservations. In a radio interview in November 2004, he said that he was “proud” that the military had used his music (even though they “hadn't asked his permission or paid him royalties”). “For me, the lyrics are a form of expression, a freedom to express my insanity,” he explained, adding, “If the Iraqis aren't used to freedom, then I'm glad to be part of their exposure.” Hetfield laughed off claims that music could be used for torture, saying, “We've been punishing our parents, our wives, our loved ones with this music for ever. Why should the Iraqis be any different?” However, he also acknowledged the reason that the military was using his music. “It's the relentlessness of the music,” he said. “It's completely relentless. If I listened to a death metal band for 12 hours in a row, I'd go insane, too. I'd tell you anything you wanted to know.”
While these musicians have at least spoken out, others -- including Eminem, AC/DC, Aerosmith, the Bee Gees, Christina Aguilera, Prince and the Red Hot Chili Peppers -- remain silent about the use of their work. Britney Spears’ views are also unknown, but if her comments to CNN in September 2003 are anything to go by, it’s unlikely that she would find fault with it. When Tucker Carlson said to her, “A lot of entertainers have come out against the war in Iraq. Have you?” Britney replied, “Honestly, I think we should just trust our president in every decision he makes and should just support that, you know, and be faithful in what happens.” Perhaps she should speak to Pamela Anderson, who recently posted a simple message to Barack Obama on her blog: “Please Shut down Guantánamo Bay -- figure it out -- make amends/stop torture -- it’s time for peaceful solutions.”
Andy Worthington is a British historian, and the author of 'The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison' (published by Pluto Press). Visit his website at: www.andyworthington.co.uk He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Nico Saieh
Architects: Localarchitecture & Danilo Mondada
Location: Hôpital de St-Loup, Switzerland
Project year: 2008
Structure: IBOIS - Hani Buri, Yves Weinand
Client: Deaconess Community of St-Loup
Photographs: Milo Keller ©2008
In the summer of 2007, Localarchitecture and architect Danilo Mondada were awarded the contract to renovate the mother house of the Deaconess Community of St-Loup. The commission involves the complete renovation of a historic building, including the community’s main chapel.
It was immediately apparent the mother house would have to be closed for the duration of the building works, in other words for 18 months starting from the summer of 2008. Instead of settling for a standard solution, like renting a tent or containers, the architects suggested building a temporary chapel to accommodate religious worship during the construction period.
Localarchitecture, which has a special interest in timber construction and new structural solutions, has made its name with several works exploring traditional and contemporary wood construction techniques. In this instance, the architects suggested working in partnership with Hani Buri and Yves Weinand from the IBOIS laboratory at the EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), whose ongoing research into folded structures seemed particularly interesting and appropriate for this project. The team developed a structure using timber panels, which makes it possible to cover large areas with fine sections. The shape was generated using computer software that calculates the load-bearing structure, determines the dimensions and transmits this information to the machine that cuts out the 6-cm thick timber panels.
Built directly on the ground, the new chapel blends subtly and delicately with the landscape. The structure, which lies along the axis of the east-west valley and is open at each end, lets in plenty of natural light. Interpreting the traditional layout of protestant churches with their variations in width and height between transept and nave, the design creates a space whose horizontal and vertical dimensions vary via a series of origami-like folds, which give rhythm to the interior and exterior of the building. The folded volume generates a wide horizontal space at the entrance, before closing in and rising up to become vertical towards the centre of the chapel. Each fold in the facade reflects the light differently and thus emphasizes the progression and elongation of the volume. The structure punctuates the interior space, while creating an atmosphere conducive to reflection.
Transparent plastic panels in the gable side facades, covered with fabric, allow natural light to enter the chapel. The frame of columns and diagonals resembles the structure of a stained-glass window.
The wooden chapel in St-Loup is the first full-scale structure that incorporates design and structural analysis based on computer method of generating novel geometrical forms, but it is also a bright example of the spatial reinterpretation of a traditional religious space in harmony with its environment.
Translations provided courtesy of Michele Giorgi
SUNN O))) "00Void" 2000
In the beginning it was the drone… and Sunn O))) that understood its enourmous potentiality like it was a matter to mould, to dismember and to re-assemble, to create new worlds and new limits to exceed. With 00Void we are, no doubts about it, in front of the first act of this new genesis: a genesis doomed to change the course off extreme music and the very concept of sound manipulation. 00Void it's a monolithic album where four long lasting suites raise the cult of god-drone to the level of a real syntax, lexicon of which it's on the same time grammar and dictionary. Obviously, we are still far from the refinement we will find in future releases, like the unreachable White 1, as on this album every attention is completely captured by the aim to create the new language. The sound is the only protagonist as there is no space space for any rhytm or melodic accent, the really important thing is the longlasting and solitary embrace of the sound itself, self-mutilated and selself-proclaimed divinity, sole actor of this new life form. The Sunn O))) insane universe is hard to explain to those that hadn't tasted it yet, it's impossible to convert people unable to understand its lost fascination. Something certain it's that this band is for the present period what pioneers of prog represented back in time, real alchemists doomed to open new ways and to enter legend. We already know that many imitators will follow and that one day the drone scene will implode into itself, repeating the fate of every sound able to open new tracks. Mayne one day this sound will be the standard and that the desire to risk will turn into loyalty to its own models. But we always should remember those who were the demiurges and the time when the creation began… al the other will play to run after them…
SUNN O))) "Flight Of the Behemoth" 2002
If with 00Void Sunn O))) had changed and regenerated the use of drone, with Flight Of The Behemoth they decide to strike further by joining forces with the genius of Japanese noise Masami Akita, a fellow who got no rivals in the field of sounds manipulation. The album opens with two pieces by Sunn O)) in line with the precedent release, bringing the process to a conclusion and developing its destabilizing strength. The sound appears completely subdued to musicians will and the compositions reach that deep impact previously curbed by the early creative urgency. It's with the third track that Merzbow enter the scene and the doors of madness are opened. The gathering between drone's masters and Japanese handler produces a devastating effect. Drone-doom and prog-noise match as to give birth to a new entity, a melting pot of extreme noise and apocalyptic despair. If Sunn O))) sound exasperates the monolithic time expansion, with Merzbow contribution turns into a magma, every edge vanishes and everything appears as "in fieri", oppressing listeners nervous system. The final result deserve a standard ovation and unites two apparent opposite souls: Sunn O))) 70s valve-driven approach and the Japanese cold and over-distorted noise landscape. If we could see in 00Void an extreme development for Sunn O))) sound, with Flight Of The Behemoth the landscape go far beyond all that could have been foreseen and fullfill the erotic dreams of extreme music lovers. To end this riot in sound, we find a piece with a title deserving a Pulitzer prize and as binding as a declaration of faith: it could be only Cliff Burton the Sunn O))) godfather.
SUNN O))) "White 1" 2003
This time, Sunn O))) have done everything in grand style and after Mr. Merzbow art, at present they have even Julian Cope's voice to join their sound, perfect backing for their cryptic drones, so deviated and deviating. Born from the infernal pair Anderson and O'Malley, the album as usual is composed by a limited number of tracks, exactly three for a total running time of almost 60 minutes. This appears to be one of the main characters of the project: to expand the compositions within the bounds of tolerance in order to force the space/time sense in listeners, as in a cathartic ritual of sensorial stimulation. Not by chance, the inner notes of the album suggest to listen at full volume to reach the highest result. For sure it is not an easy listening album nor an academic or didactic form of doom. On the contrary it goes far beyond, blending Sabbath riffing (raped on the great "The Gates Of Ballard") with the drone approach of purest industrial noise, as to create the missing link or the sound able to open new horizons without definitely burning bridges with the original 70s attitude (somehow, it reminds me also of Hawkwind space-rock approach). In short, listeners who likes to taste a real sperimental attitude, also smelling dissolution, will be flung into a world from which it will be very difficult to come out. It's impossible to establish whether this will be the future, but we are surely going in to the right direction.
SUNN O))) "White 2" 2004
With White 1 the Sunn O)) reached untouchable expressive levels, evolved further their trademark and brought their sound to a head and with White 2 they widen their horizons and reach the absolute apex of their career in the final track "Deacy 2" as they promised with the gigantic "Deacy 1" (present as a bonus track in the best of Attila Csihar). White 2 consists of three long suites summing up the various aspects of Sunn O))) thought, from the drone-doom of "hell-O)))-ween" (lined up with the claustrophobic sound of 00Void and Flight Of The Behemoth, of which it was an evolution and natural result), to the insane experimentalism of "Bassaliens", real training room for unexpected sound manipulations. It's "Bassaliens" that fully shows the versatility of this band outlining the ability in forcing every limit and preconceived idea, with minimal sounds proceeding sinuously and furtively. The suite continuously change by making use of pure distorted sounds and cruel feedbacks to demolish every left over resistence. From a quiet beginning we are pushed into a new mixture of dilated sounds and mere noise to reach a final effect that fascinates and captures at one hand, destabilizes and rapes the listener on the other. No doubt it is one of the most claustrophobic experimental pieces ever conceived by the absolute masters of drone. But is with the last track "Decay 2" that the album can be called a masterpiece: we are taken into a parallel universe of changing sounds and anxious atmospheres. The track opens with the most infernal suite the band ever created, by offering us a chorus of souls condemned to dance by ghostly sounds and ominous moans. To top it all we find Attila's voice, perfect Caronte in this Hades created by Sunn O))), an Attila at his greatest ease as director of the apocalypse and in perfect community with his friends of rite. With Deacy 2 the band is entitled to enter the Olympus, it offers a so real sonic nightmare as to leave a strange sensation of anxiety even in the most used listener. An album leaving us terrified.
SUNN O))) "The Libations Of Samhain" 2003
A children chorus opens the space/time door form which feedbacks and drone, white noise and dissected notes peep out. This is the opening of a sole, long lasting, musical outline (the other one is an interview) that composes this live album recorded in London with the aid of Attila Csihar on vocals, a real liturgy for lost souls. Those who are on terms of familiarity with the proposal by Anderson, O'Malley and co., know well how the concept and shape of a song have weak and dilated edges in Sunn O))) music, so it would not have made any sense to expext a pure performance of already released tracks: as a matter of fact it is a real experiment of creation, where each instrument interacts with the others to give birth, little by little, to a beating entity heading on sound. The instruments themselves are real lab machinery to bring sounds to new mutation stages, through the use of "errors" and "malfunctions" to reach a unique suite looking like a ritual and a catharsis. Everything tastes like an initiation ceremony, door to a new world, triumphal arch of the new sound creation. All this explains the choice of a limited edition of only 500 copies to be bought online of newborn Bastet, child of Arthur Magazine. A brave choice in accordance with the nature of this album made with the most scrupulous accuracy also under the graphic aspect, smartly wrapped in a thin cardboard enriched with the artwork by Savage Pen. Something different from the usual, but on the same time a fascinating one and a further proof of Sunn O))) visionary genius.
SUNN O))) "Black One" 2005
Talking about Black One as the most obscure work ever released by Sunn O))) could scare more than a listener, as Anderson/O'Malley previous releases are not exactly joyful and happy ones. Nevertheless from the first notes this album continues what begun along the final track of White 2, when singer Attila Csihar joined the band. Also in Black One, Sunn O))) avail themselves with the contribution of external musicians such as Oren Ambarchi, Wrest (Leviathan, Lurker Of Chalice, Twilight), Malefic (Xasthur, Twilight), John Weise (Bastard Noise). The final result attests the indisputable value of a band able to set to music the most mysterious fears and our most unconscious phobias thanks to the expansion and the manipulation of sounds and human voice. To confirm the obscure nature of this album it is the version signed Sunn O))) of "Cursed Realms (Of The Winterdemons)" by Immortal, here deprived of every humanity and made pure evocation for unredeemed souls, a pure anthem to damnation. But it's the whole album to fade the most experimental Sunn O))) soul into the background, to devote the efforts towards manipulating listeners sensations and to inspire an atmosphere of anxiety and wickedness, also not changing the inner nature of Sunn O))) code. In short, Black One offers us the picture of a band able to master their own expressive means and endowed with a fitting, never excessive, song writing. It would be quite unfair to doubt of the real importance of an entity like Sunn O))).
SUNN O))) & BORIS "Altar" 2006
Altar gets over the concept of split album or of an extemporary cooperation, as it aims to represent anew entity capable to go far over the mere sum of the parts involved. Sunn O))) and Boris look for an expressive form that considers as a starting point the personalities of the involved single entities, carries their potentialities further and debates their guide-lines. To make all this clearer we find some famous guests, to enrich and to distinguish the trajectories of the project. Thus we can listen to Jesse Sykes, Kim Thayil, Joe Preston, the whole Earth and other musicians to make this album a real sound factory or better a laboratory where to play with sound as matter. Therefore it follows that the risk of putting too many irons in the fire and confusing the listener was a real possibility, nevertheless the presence of such strong personalities like Sunn O))) and Boris as conductors can hold the ship's course, so the multiform tracks nature can always find a guiding principle to tie and coordinate it. Song writing is dilated, goes along centrifugal trajectories and in the end inevitably yeld to the centripetal force that puts together again the single elements, thus infusing into the listeners the impression of being present at a rite with its rigorous beat and religious mood. Shouldn't we risk of undervalue the commitment and seriousness of purposes, we could define Altar a thematic park for experimental sounds lovers of Southern Lord school.
SUNN O))) "Dømkirke" 2008
Whoever got the opportunity to attend a Sunn O))) live set knows well how their shows are quite unique under -at least- two point of views. First, because of the huge creative tension, enriched by different guests joyining the core-band on stage, second, because of the high ritual mood surrounding the event, as it was a sort of religious meeting, so far from usual rock parties. Obviously this last effect is amplified according to the mind set of the audience and the place/context of the performance: you can easily imagine the impact of a Sunn O))) live set inside the Bergen cathedral, built in 1150 and place of a high cultural, historical and religious value. To the domkirke and to its strong symbolic recallings is devoted the first of the tracks captured live in 2007, during the Borealis festival, stuck in the tradition of Gregorian chants and enriched by the cathedral ancient organ played by Steve Moore (Earth, Ascend). To complete the line up with Anderson and O'Malley you can find Attila Csihar, a long time partner of the Sunn O))), and Lasse Marhaug, well known artist of the Norwegian scene for his numerous projects (from noise to jazz) and owner of Pica Disk. Marhaug's presence and his progressive penetration inside the creative process as well as his interaction with Attila's ritual vocals contribute to make of Domkirke a sound forge of unusual expressive strength, or better to say one of the most shining and charming events in the whole Sunn O))) discography. With "Cymatics" Sunn O))) reach the apex of their expressive landscape and can be described as almost perfect, so demonstrating out of doubts how they are far from ending their artistic growth or their creative impulse. On the contrary, today Sunn O))) appear in a top condition, perfect in their role of ideal interface between deadly darkness and creative passion, restaurators of ancient rites and overthrowers of dogmas. The interaction between musicians longing to force their limits and the influence wielded by environment represents the climax of an album standing as an unaivodable moment in the experimental and extreme music history. To confirm the special value of the event there is also the decision to release the album only on vinyl, wrapped in a heavy gatefold packaging decorated with an impressive artwork by Tania Stene (who already did the artworks for many important names of the Norwegian black metal scene like Burzum, Ulver and Darkthrone) and great pics of the night. A note of colour in the literal sense of the term: the European version is printed in marbled blue vinyl and is limited to a thousand copies.
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