Seattle’s Sunn O))) have had a weird musical career as of late. Though through making ‘Kannon’, the first album since 2009’s ‘Monoliths & Dimensions’, they prove that they’ve not stopped making music, despite creating collaborations or splits with Nurse With Wound, Ulver and Scott Walker in the mid-point. This understandably makes it a bit worrying for when the band have to go out on their own two feet and create their own album with no outside help.
Luckily, however, ‘Kannon’ smashes it, leaving no question in the fans’ minds that Sunn O))) have lost any of their ability. Though it lacks some of the additional creativity and flair that the collaborations gave them, the three song, 30 minute long epic stands on its own two feet. The haunting sound of Attila Csihar’s vocals can be heard across both ‘Kannon II’ and ‘III’, giving both final tracks something to hook onto and something that can remind the fans of these collaborations.
To describe this album as music would be too limiting to what Sunn O))) would wish to achieve. This album is nothing more than a creative audio landscape, which encompasses some very vague musical elements. Certain instrumentation such as SOMA‘s guitar is used to create an intense listening environment, often times playing one chord and leaving it there for multiple bars. To fully understand this piece of art, the thought that it transcends everything that is truly traditional about music must be realised for the album to fully make sense, and not seem like pure noise for the sake of it.
This thought pattern is interrupted, however, at the end of the album, with the most awful screeching noise imaginable made by Greg Anderson. The electronic noises on this album aren’t pleasant at the best of times, often creating a depressing and intense atmosphere in which the tracks would carry on, but the sound of the pure screech from the amps for 20 seconds to end this album is certainly the least musical decision of them all. This, however, works in praise to the duo as the want for them to create something conventional and something radio-friendly was never their intention. Sunn O))) and their ideals is to elicit a response from the listener, and to choose to end on something like this creates the best response imaginable.
‘II’ is the most familiar part of them all with a riff that sounds almost like Black Sabbath… that is Black Sabbath played 300 times slower for 9 minutes. This calling point is the most accessible part of their music, and definitely the most musical notes of the entire album. This, however, is being very liberal with the terms, and would still create a response from most listeners, either good or bad.
To say this album would appeal to people looking for actual songs or really any part of music would be dishonest from the truth. This album transcends music, and for a band to really do that to the effect that Sunn O))) can is a credit onto itself.
Written by Bradley Cassidy