“Black One is a low-end doom masterpiece that is as likely to induce a trancelike state in listeners as . . . a deep sense of dread.” —Guitar World
Is it possible to alter your mind by pushing air? Drone masters SUNN 0))) prove it is during an evening of guitars so heavy that tonality takes on a physical life of its own. An important aspect of the evolution of recent music, from 1970s punk to ’80s hardcore to ’90s experimentalism, drone captures those influences while reflecting the precision and chaos represented in the multiplicity of music being created today. Multi-layered sonic textures are matched with an ear toward the meditative, an atonal density of energy that is nearly transcendent in its result. An evening with the duo is as much performance art as concert, invoking a mystical aura of doomcore-trance that aligns with the spiritual paths of bands like Earth, Thrones, and the Melvins. SUNN 0))) will be joined in a rare U.S. date by Australian guitarist Oren Ambarchi and Japan’s legendary Boris, at long last making a Minneapolis appearance on Thursday, May 25, at 8 pm in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater. Exquisitely noisy and distortedly languid, Boris segues from Stooges-inspired psych riffs torn up and spit back through the investigative lens of Keiji Haino and Merzbow to the lowest grinding sludge experiments by the likes of Sleep and Corrupted. Note: This performance utilizes theatrical fog.
SUNN 0))), a rarely touring side project of Khanate/Burning Witch (Steve O’Malley) and Goatsnake (Greg Anderson) members, was formed in homage to the cult drone-riff founders Earth. Their open-door policy has resulted in collaborations with Julian Cope, Peter Rehberg/PITA & Mego Records, Attila Csihar, John Wiese/Bastard Noise, Gerritt/Misanthropic Agenda Records, Joe Preston/Thrones & ex-Earth, Rex Ritter/Fontanelle & ex-Jessamine and Dawn Smithson/ex-Jessamine. The recent release, Black One, is the sixth and darkest SUNN 0))) album yet and features special guests Oren Ambarchi, Wrest (Leviathan/Lurker of Chalice/Twilight), Malefic (Xasthur, Twilight), and John Weise (Bastard Noise) in performances of progressive yet primitive pure subsonic power.
With their previous two albums, White1 and White2, SUNN 0))) explored deep dynamics, ambience, and introduced different instrumentation to their recordings: vocals (performed by Julian Cope on White1 and Attila Csihar/Mayhem on White2), percussion (performed by Joe Preston on White1) and subsonic keyboards (performed by Rex Ritter/Jessamine-Fontanelle).
Japanese cult favorite sludge/doom rock trio Boris takes its name from a song on grunge godfathers the Melvins’ Bullhead album. Sharing the Melvins’ fondness for heavily down-tuned guitar/bass tones and exceedingly slow tempos, Boris also incorporates elements drawn from other sources, including psychedelic rock, punk, noise, minimalism, pure sludge-drone music à la Earth, and more. Also, despite the unpretentious psychedelic/stoner rock imagery that accompanies much of their work, there is an ambitiously experimental aspect to much of it. Their albums, for example, have tended to be massive conceptual projects. Their full-length debut, Absolutego (1996), is a feedback-heavy drone exploration consisting of a single 65-minute track. Also on the more experimental end of their discography are collaborations with Japanese avant-garde enigma Keiji Haino and power electronics/noise legend Merzbow.
Boris formed during the early 1990s with guitarist Wata, bassist Takeshi, and drummer/vocalist Atsuo. They made their first recorded appearance on an obscure 1994 compilation entitled Take Care of Scabbard Fish, released only in Japan and now out of print. Absolutego, on the band’s own Fangs Anal Satan imprint, was previously unavailable outside Japan until the Los Angeles-based label Southern Lord reissued the album in 2001 along with a bonus track and new packaging. Their next album, Amplifier Worship, came out on the Mangrove label in 1998, the same year as the release of the Boris/Keiji Haino collaboration, a live disc entitled Black: Implication Flooding on Japan’s Inoxia Records. In 1999, Boris issued a split CD with fellow Japanese band Choukoko No Niwa, More Echoes, Touching Air Landscapes, also on Inoxia. Their third full-length album, Flood, was released two years later on the MIDI Creative label, followed in 2002 by the consciously more “rock” album Heavy Rocks featuring collaborations with Lori/Acid King, Masonna, and Merzbow. Their current full-length release, Pink, is available on the Southern Lord label.
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Oren Ambarchi started as a free jazz drummer, went through a Japanoise phase, and ended up cutting himself a place under the avant-garde sun as a lowercase guitarist in the early 2000s, pushing his instrument into territories similar to the ones explored by contemporaries Rafael Toral and Kevin Drumm. His releases on Tzadik, Touch, and Staubgold attracted international interest, but he remained in his home country, working hard at developing a local scene with his What Is Music? festival. Ambarchi was born in 1969 in Sydney, in a family of Sephardic Jews from Iraq. He spent his teenage years learning to play the drums, initially favoring free jazz. Listening to John and Alice Coltrane and other spiritual jazz touched his Jewish roots. He went to New York to study at an orthodox Jewish school in Brooklyn, immersing himself in mysticism by day and experimental music by night. The music of composers Morton Feldman and Alvin Lucier, the avant-garde jazz of John Zorn, and the noise of Keiji Haino prompted him to pick up a guitar. Back in Australia, and strongly influenced by the Japanoise scene, he put together the noise/punk group Phlegm with drummer Robbie Avenaim, and later the Sisters of Menstruation. He then received an invitation from Zorn, whom he had met while in New York, to perform at the 1993 Radical Jewish Culture Festival with the likes of Fred Frith and Ikue Mori. Ambarchi would eventually record a duo CD with Robbie Avenaim, The Alter Rebbe’s Nigun, in 1999, for Zorn’s Tzadik label. Australia quickly reclaimed Ambarchi as their own, and with Avenaim, he organized the event What Is Music? in 1994, which quickly became an annual festival. He began performing with local free improv scenesters (Jim Denley, Stevie Wishart, Martin Ng, etc.) along with international artists, beginning his solo career in 1998. Influenced by both the burgeoning Austrian/German scene of digital audio (Mego, Touch, Staubgold) and his love for the music of Feldman and Lucier, Ambarchi retreated into calmer, more meditative, and textural sounds. He recorded his first solo LP, Stacte (Jerker Productions, 1998), at home in one take without looking back. That, and Stacte.2 (1999), attracted the attention of the British experimental electro label Touch for whom he subsequently recorded Insulation (2000) and Suspension (2001), both beautiful examples of his new approach.
Tickets to SUNN 0))) with Oren Ambarchi + Boris are $16 ($13 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.