Drone metal greats Sunn O))) have announced two new albums recorded with Steve Albini: Life Metal, which will be out in April via Southern Lord, and the “more meditative” Pyroclasts, which will be revealed in autumn 2019. You can listen to a five-minute teaser for Life Metal and check out the artwork and tracklist below. Here’s more background:
In July 2018 SUNN O))) spent just over two weeks in Chicago at Electrical Audio (Studio A) with Steve Albini at the helm. The results are astounding: there is breadth and luminosity of colour, it sounds vast. The sessions were impeccably recorded, authentically represented and completely accurate. The spectrum cracked the firmament open in clarity. An all analogue technique was used, they recorded and mixed on tape, providing a creative gateway for SUNN O))) to evolve their production methods into stronger, confident, performance based and a more logical executive process. The album was mastered and lacquers cut from tape in October by SUNN O))) ally Matt Colton at Alchemy in London. The LP version is a AAA album, recorded and mixed on tape via a completely analogue production, from the input of the band’s amplifiers and the air coming off the speakers in front of the microphones to needle touching the pressed vinyl on your turntable.
Continuing one of the main currents of the SUNN O))) concept, depth of exploration within collaboration, brought forth Hildur Guðnadóttir to the Sunn O))) constellation. Hildur is a sometime live collaborator of Sunn O))) and a renowned film music composer, former member of the bands Múm, Pan Sonic and Angel. She was a long time collaborator with the composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (RIP). Hildur lent her incredible attitude, as well as her voice, breath and electric cello, and the enigmatic haldorophone to the proceedings, culminating in the epic composition/concerto “Novæ”. The cosmos clearly expands.
Tim Midyett, a close friend of Greg and Stephen since the Seattle days of the early 90s (and member of Silkworm, Bottomless Pit and Mint Mile), joined in a foundational role tying earth to sound with wicked performances on aluminium neck bass and baritone guitars: instruments he helped pioneer playing back in the 90s (alongside Steve and Shellac of course). Dark matter is reality.
Prolific new music composer Anthony Pateras arranged and recorded an incredible contribution of pipe organ for a piece titled “Troubled Air” (titled after an essay by author Aliza Shvarts, who also penned the liner notes for Sunn O)))’s Kannon) at Schlosskappelle, Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart. String theory of space.
The resulting album is titled Life Metal. It is fully realised and completely real. The record was produced by the core of Stephen & Greg & arranged by the greater constellation Sunn O))). Paintings by visual artist Samantha Keely Smith graciously adorn the sleeve and provide a perfect suitable mask to the proceedings. They collide ideas of 19th century romanticism & late 20th abstract expressionism (mysticism) with Sunn O)))’s approach to metal (via reference points of Arbo, Turner, Delville, Richter, Turrel, Wou-Ki). Photographer Ronald Dick shot them in baths of light colour representing depth of sound pressure in the work.
Sunn O))) are also touring Europe in February/March and the US in April, with Papa M (Slint’s David Pajo) opening all US dates.
The tour includes a NYC show on April 25 at Brooklyn Steel. Tickets will be on sale soon. All dates are listed below.
Life Metal Tracklist
1. Between Sleipnir’s Breaths
2. Troubled Air
Sunn O))) — 2019 Tour Dates
Thu 28/02/2019 DE Frankfurt Mousonturm
Fri 01/03/2019 AT Graz Elevate festival/Orpheum ° ~
Sat 02/03/2019 CZ Prague Divadlo Archa °
Sun 03/03/2019 DE Hamburg Kampnagel – K6 °
Mon 04/03/2019 NL Amsterdam Paradiso °
Wed 06/03/2019 FR Lyon L’Epicerie Moderne ÷
Thu 07/03/2019 FR Nancy L’Autre Canal ÷
Fri 08/03/2019 FR Dijon La Vapeur ÷
Sat 09/03/2019 FR Rouen QuasaRites Day/Le 106
Mon 11/03/2019 FR Tours Le Temps Machine §
Tue 12/03/2019 FR Nantes Stereolux §
Wed 13/03/2019 FR La Rochelle La Sirene §
Thu 14/03/2019 FR Bordeaux Le Rocher de Palmer §
Wed 17/04/2019 Cleveland, OH The Agora Theatre ^
Thu 18/04/2019 Detroit, MI Masonic Temple ^
Fri 19/04/2019 Chicago, IL Rockefeller Chapel ^
Sat 20/04/2019 Pelham, TN The Caverns^
Wed 24/04/2019 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts ^
Thu 25/04/2019 Brooklyn, NY Brooklyn Steel^
Fri 26/04/2019 New Haven, CT College Street Music Hall^
Sun 28/04/2019 Washington, DC The Howard Theatre^
° Puce Mary
÷ Golem Mecanique
~ Robin Fox presents Single Origin
^ Papa M