Light from surrounding streetlamps and neighborhood porch lights filtered in through the Mission-style high ceilinged windows lining the perimeter of the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts. They illuminated rotating specks of dust as they filtered toward the chandeliers hung from the center of the room. The red stage lights sent an hush around the packed auditorium, making the place look as if it had been lifted out of a scene from some Dario Argento film, minus the Goblin.
Sunn O))), recorded in Brooklyn
Sensing that Sunno)) was about to start, cloaked young men and other hipster ilk began placing earplugs in their ears. And then a searing, droning guitar pedal wah wah'd and echoed through the room, people cheered and Sunn O))) began what seemed like an hours long, lumbering, mythic noise assault.
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The appeal of a band like Sunn O))) is their ability to carry you away with their wall of sound, to be lifted into the wash and become so entrenched that the melody, which many critics have bemoaned Sunn O)))'s lack of, becomes as crystal clear as a flute. The experience is lurking inside the tunnel only after you surrender to it. Last night was no exception. The band carried out their mission of sonic boundary-pushing dressed in their signature satanic monk robes -- and also included a bonus singer dressed as some kind of soul eating tree monster you wouldn't want to see in your worst dreams. The cinematics of the band are another bonus to their live shows, as the members lift their axes into air as if they are sacrificial lambs, the Gregorian sounding hell chants hovering and slithering around the vibrating distortion.
Almost immediately, the distortion was so great that the entire room began to vibrate. As the show pressed on you could see the faint of heart retreating back through the crowd and toward the exits, smoke patio or bathrooms. If Falcor and Atreyo had stayed on their path and the world of the Never Ending Story had never ended, they most certainly would have come upon Sunn O))), and in their quest they would have lifted the earth-weary men and carried them through the star-bright galaxy, sawing axes and spreading lumbering warnings to all who crossed their path.
Read an interview with Sunn O)))'s co-founder, Greg Anderson, here.
Drew Tewksbury offered a Sunn O))) primer for West Coast Sound here.