Engine Kid and Sunn O)))


(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

Bear Catching Fish , 6/10
Angel Wings , 5/10
Goatsnake: Goatsnake (1999), 5/10
Goatsnake: Flower Of Disease (2000), 5/10
Sunn O))): Sunn (1998), 6/10
Sunn O))): Zero Zero Void (2000), 7/10
Sunn O))): Flight Of The Behemoth (2002), 7/10
Sunn O))): White1 (2003), 5/10
Sunn O))): White2 (2003), 6/10
Sunn O))): Black One (2005), 7/10
Sunn O))): Oracle (2007), 6/10
KTL (Editions Mego, 2006), 7/10
KTL 2 (Editions Mego, 2007), 7/10
Aethenor: Deep In The Ocean Sunk The Lamp of Light (2006), 6.5/10
Aethenor: Betimes Black Cloudmasses (2008), 5/10
Ascend: Ample Fire Within (2008), 6/10
Sunn O))): Monoliths & Dimensions (2009), 6.5/10
Aethenor: Faking Gold & Murder (2009), 5/10
KTL: IV (2008), 6/10
KTL: V (2008), 5/10
Aethenor: En Form For Bla (2011), 6/10
Links:

Engine Kid is a trio from Seattle that plays post-rock a` la Slint. After debuting with the EP Astronaut, they released two albums, Bear Catching Fish (C/Z, 1993), which runs the gamut from Cop Shoot Cop (Bear Catching Fish) to King Crimson (Bullfight) to Dinosaur Jr (Cabin Fever), and Angel Wings (Revelation, 1995), a slab of harsh and uncompromising jazz-core (Holes To Fight In).

Engine Kid's guitarist Greg Anderson formed Goatsnake (Rise Above, 1999) with Greg Rogers and Guy Pinhas from Obsessed and Wool's vocalist Pete Stahl. Goatsnake's standard gothic/doom-metal yielded a second album, Flower Of Disease (Southern Lord, 2000), while Anderson was starting another project, Sunn O))), a drum-less duo with bassist Stephen O'Malley, who had played guitar on Burning Witch's Crippled Lucifer (1998), an album of doom metal as background music for the vocalist's psychodrama (shrieks, moans, wails, growls).

SunnO))) sounded like a sort of tribute project to Earth's super-gloomy sound. Sunn (Hydra Head, 1998 - Southern Lord, 2005), recorded live in april 1998 and later reissued as The GrimmRobe Demos (Southern Lord, 2005), contained three lengthy pieces (two of which paid explicit tribute to Earth): the 19-minute Black Wedding, i.e. the manifesto of their sustained and interlocking distortions that adds electronics to the original Earth aesthetic, the 15-minute Defeating Earth's Gravity, and the bleaker, deeper, slow-motion, barbaric 21-minute Dylan Carlson, their first artistic success. They are studies on how to combine the sound of a guitar and a bass to produce infinite loops of proto-riffs, moebius strips of distorted drones. The GrimmRobe Demos adds a fourth track from the same sessions, Grimm and Bear It, originally not on the album.

The monumental Zero Zero Void (Rise Above, 2000 - Dirter Promotions, 2003), however, represented something else altogether: four epic-length concertos for bass and guitar only that were even heavier and slower than Earth. This is sub-music for the hearing impaired made of colossal riffs that approach zen trascendence. For eight minutes Richard (14:32) exales a series of grotesque bass notes out of a sizzling guitar magma, before decaying into a buzzing drone intertwined with shrill guitar noise. NN O))) (15:15) could be a horror sci-fi soundtrack: its repetitive bass riff sounds like a panzer advancing at slow speed through a landscape of ruins. Instead of the tidal waves of the previous pieces, Rabbit's Revenge (14:01) flies relatively low, unleashing just one shapeless distortion. Ra At Dusk (14:43) tries to modulate a melody but all that comes out is a stuttering vision of devastation, a series of galactic hiccups that reverb forever across an empty universe. While very similar in the approach to static drones and minimal harmony, this is the very opposite of ambient music.

Flight Of The Behemoth (Southern Lord, 2002) sounds less inspired than previous Sunn O))) albums, almost as if it The slow-burning riff-drone of Mocking Solemnity and Death Becomes You (two joined tracks that form one lengthy nightmare) begins in the register of a motorcycle. It is sustained for 9+13 minutes by an endless series of small eruptions. There is no other instrument and there is no attempt to modulate the guitar noise into a melody. It compares favorably with Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music. The next two tracks, O))) Bow 1 & 2, are wildly dissonant, basically extremely loud musique concrete for piano, chainsaw and drill and assorted electronic manipulations, for a grand total of 19 minutes. Towards the end the noise seems to implode into itself, like volcano lava that is receding, or a black hole that is syphonic out matter. Fwtbt is a ten-minute corollary to Mocking Solemnity/ Death Becomes You with monster-movie overtones. Rarely had music sounded so ugly and hostile. (The vinyl version included Grimm and Bear It, later reissued on the CD version of The GrimmRobe Demos).

Stephen O'Malley also played in the Lotus Eaters .

A Stephen O'Malley installation was documented on Fungal Hex's 40-minute piece of Fungal Hex (Galerie Jeleni, 2002).

White1 (Southern Lord, 2003), featuring Rex Ritter (Jessamine) and Joe Preston (Melvins) besides Anderson and O'Malley, is a less creative work than Zero Zero Void or Flight Of The Behemoth, but Sunn O))) continues to shock with super-heavy drones and sinister monoliths such as the 25-minute My Wall. White2 (Southern Lord, 2004) collects three long tracks recorded during the same sessions as White1: Hell-O)))-Ween, a classic stoner dirge, bassAliens, a haunting noise bordering on cosmic music, Decay2, a doom/gothic nightmare. The vinyl version contains a fourth: the 18-minute Decay. The feeling is almost that the two parts of White came out in the wrong order: the second part sounds like the "real thing", while the first part sounds like the left-overs.

In the meantime, Goatsnake reformed and released the mini-album Trampled Under Hoof (SOuthern Lord, 2004).

The EP Imperium (Lyderhorn, 2005) is a side project by Stephen O'Malley from Sunn 0))).

Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley managed to outdo their most gothic credentials with Black One (Southern Lord, 2005), the third peak of Sunn 0)))'s career (also available as a double-CD that includes the live La Mort Noir dans Esch/Alzette). A magmatic release of asphyxiating, claustrophobic sludge, this work lifts the art of the icy metal riff to new levels of irrationality. The music ranges from the relatively humane pace of slow, demonic It Took the Night to Believe (the voice filtered to a ghostly growl dialoguing with a distant desperate scream, and the music reduced to a repetitive motif of distorted guitar), to the ten-minute droning carnage of Orthodox Caveman (augmented with John Wiese's digital dissonances and Oren Ambarchi's percussion), from the majestic cover of Immortal's Cursed Realms (a concrete concerto of vocal noises), to the brutal Hendrix-ian whirlwind of Candlegoat. Cry For The Weeper lays down 15 minutes of super-charged suspense, like a condensed version of the previous pieces, and, ultimately, a demonstratation of the psychological power of the protracted guitar riff. The crowning achievement of the album and perhaps of the duo's entire career is the sixteen-minute gothic orgy Bathory Erzebet, almost a cinematic soundtrack in which seven minutes of sustained glitchy crystal tones are devoured by an apocalyptic riff and by no less fearsome monsters (vocal acrobatics courtesy of Xasthur's Malefic). The "music" keeps imploding into itsel as if simulating the fall into a black hole.
All in all, it felt like the duo of Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley was remixing the history of black metal for the digital generation.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Claudio Vespignani)

Engine Kid era un trio di Seattle dedito ad una sorta di post-rock ispirato agli Slint. Dopo il debutto con l'EP "Astronaut", fecero uscire due album: "Bear Catching Fish" (C/Z 1993), con una varietà di influenze che andava dai Cop Shoot Cop (Bear Catching Fish) ai King Crimson (Bullfight) e ai Dinosaur Jr (Cabin Fever). Il secondo fu "Angel Wings" (Revelation 1995), che invece faceva sfoggio di un duro e intransigente jazz- hardcore (Holes to fight in). Il chitarrista Greg Anderson successivamente formò i Goatsnake con Greg Rogers e Guy Pinhas degli Obsessed e il cantante dei Wool Pete Stahl. Il primo album omonimo del 1999 su Rise Above e "Flower of Disease" (Southern Lord 2000), vedeva il quartetto alle prese con un doom-gothic-metal piuttosto standardizzato. Nel frattempo Anderson varava un nuovo progetto, Sunn O))), un duo col bassista Stephen O'Malley (presente come chitarrista anche nei Khanate), una sorta di tributo al suono ultra-tenebroso degli Earth. Il mini-album "Sunn" (Hydra Head 1998 - Southern Lord 2005) era soltanto una imitazione, mentre il monumentale "Zero Zero Void" (Rise Above, 2000 - Dirter Promotions, 2003 - Daymare, 2008) nel complesso segnava una certa orginalità; quattro lunghe cavalcate per soli chitarra e basso, che riescono addirittura a superare la pesantezza e la lentezza degli Earth. Si tratta di colonne sonore per menti alterate, fatta di riff giganteschi che raggiungono quasi una trascendenza zen. Sebbene molto simili nei metodi ai drones statici e al minimalismo, tutto questo sembra davvero l'esatto opposto della musica ambient. Persino i titoli danno un senso di provocazione: I've Broken Into the Tomb of King S'attiwazza, KO Your Eunuch Tendencies, Show us Your Slime, Rubble Me I'm a 5th Century Stone Buddha. Flight Of The Behemoth (Southern Lord, 2002), è meno ispirato del precedente; è come se ne contenesse gli scarti. Si salvano Mocking Solemnity e Death Becomes You, che formano un unico, lungo incubo rievocante il disco precedente. White1 (Southern Lord, 2003), con Rex Ritter (Jessamine) e Joe Preston (Melvins) al fianco di Anderson e O'Malley continua a choccare con i suoi drones ultra-pesanti e i suoi monoliti sinistri (My Wall arriva a 25 minuti di lunghezza). White2 (Southern Lord, 2004) raccoglie 3 lunghi pezzi registrati nelle stesse sessions di White1. Hell-O)))-Ween è un classico stoner rock. bassAliens è un rumore avvolgente vicino alla musica cosmica. Decay2 è un altro incubo doom. Il disco in vinile contiene un quarto pezzo di 18 minuti, Decay. La sensazione è che le due parti di White siano uscite nell'ordine sbagliato: la seconda sembra veramente la migliore, mentre la prima suonava più come una raccolta di scarti. Nel frattempo i Goatsnake si erano riformati con il mini album Trampled Under Hoof (SOuthern Lord, 2004). L'EP Imperium (Lyderhorn, 2005) è un progetto parallelo di Stephen O'Malley. Greg Anderson e Stephen O'Malley sono riusciti a tirar fuori il meglio delle loro credenziali gotiche con Black One (Southern Lord, 2005), il terzo picco della carriera dei Sunn O))). Magmatico e asfissiante, claustrofobico e melmoso, questo disco eleva l'arte del metal glaciale a nuovi livelli di irrazionalità. Dal passo quasi umano di It Took the Night to Believe alla carneficina di 10 minuti di Orthodox Caveman (col contributo di dissonanze elettroniche di John Wiese), dalla maestosa cover degli Immortal "Cursed Realms" al vortice da incubo di CandleGoat. Ma il vertice del disco e forse dell'intera carriera del duo è rappresentata dall'orgia gotica di Bathory Erzebet (16 minuti), che implode continuamente in se stessa, come a simulare la caduta in un buco nero.

After 2005 Stephen O'Malley was mostly absorbed by a a series of ventures, starting with Khanate.

Ginnungagap debuted with the gothic-sounding two-track EP Return To Nothing (Misanthropic Agenda, 2004) performed by a trio of O'Malley on guitar, Khanate's Tim Wyskida on gong and tympani, Gerritt Wittmer on laptop. However Ginnungagap's Remeindre (2005) was a collaboration between O'Malley, Alexander Tucker and Tony Sylvester (Iron Monkey, Teeth Of The Lions Rule The Divine) of almost eastern-tinged new-age music. The same moniker was adopted again for the one sided-LP Crashed Like Wretched Moth (Conspiracy, 2006) of mostly solo piano music.

Aethenor's Deep In The Ocean Sunk The Lamp of Light (2006) was a collaboration among O'Malley, pianist/percussionist Daniel O'Sullivan (of British prog-rock band Guapo) and keyboardist Vincent DeRoguin (of Swiss metal band Shora) devoted to subliminal doom electronics, a four-movement ambient-psychedelic-gothic symphony. The first movement takes off slowly, with a menacing rumble and metallic sounds (like a meeting of Klaus Schulze and Zev). Ghostly lamentations surface from the tide of ugly musique concrete. The second movement is drenched into loud electronic vibrations and sparse percussion. The tones are hallucinated and the way the electronics proceed is more similar to jazz improvisation than to stereotypical ambient music. Meanwhile, some kind of horror play seems to be taking place under the thick shroud of drones. After a brief movement of brittle and relatively gentle sounds, the last movement delves into an aquatic-astral dimension and soars into a hymn-like "om" before splintering into tinkling notes and warped drones. The symphony ends with the noise of a turntable's needle that drops off the groove. Aethenor's follow-up, Betimes Black Cloudmasses (2008), was, instead, a mere concentrate of pretention.

Altar (Inoxia, 2006) was a collaboration between Boris and Sunn O))), more notable for the artwork than for the music. The collaboration involves other musicians as well: Jesse Sykes sings in the paradisiac Sinking Belle, Kim Thayil of Soundgarden plays guitar in the colossal Blood Swamp, Joe Preston of Melvins sings in Akuma No Kuma.

Magistral (Southern Lord, 2007) was a collaboration between O'Malley and Z'ev.

The most important of all O'Malley's side projects was KTL, an exercise in digitally-manipulated music. KTL (Editions Mego, 2006) was born as a collaboration between Stephen O'Malley of SUNNO))), playing "strings, FX and amps", and Austrian digital soundsculptor Peter "Pita" Rehberg (on "oscillators, applications, drives"), and originally conceived as a soundtrack for a performance-art piece. After three minutes of celestial wavering drone that sets the atmosphere, the 24-minute Estranged populates its landscape with rapid galactic sounds that get more and more aggressive. Initially it sounds like meteors and comets flashing by, but soon the dissonance acquires a more mental than physical quality. By the tenth minute the piece has become a slow solo of guitar distortion (sparse random chords) over a static background radiation. Snow is 13 minutes of subliminal noises trapped in the quick sand of spacetime, and another anti-spectacular guitar solo. These two compositions fused the glitch aesthetic and the doom-droning aesthetic into an eerily futuristic soundscape of shadows and echoes. The 40-minute four-movement suite Forest Floor was a more aggressive affair. The first movement juxtaposes frantic strumming in the vein of Glenn Branca's guitar symphonies with ominous bass lines and gargantuan electronic noises soaring to Hendrix-ian grandeur. The second movement is a wall of dissonance erected by the counterpoint of shrill industrial noise and gothic guitar sound. The dense and dark third movement sounds like the growl of a revolving giant maelstrom. The fourth part is a stoic attempt at modulating a melody out of the chaos. The guitar-based Forest Floor is "heavier" and more lively but, overall, not as subtly groundbreaking as the computer-based Estranged.
KTL 2 (Editions Mego, 2007) was an even gloomier cosmic/psychological journey into some obscure place of the mind; and, generally speaking, a louder one. After the thick floating molasses of Game dissolves, a heartbeat introduces the 27-minute Theme. A vibration rises from the silence through minimalist repetition until it becomes a massive sound sculpture. Layers and layers of wavering drones create the impression of a colossal tidal wave, of a tsunami bent on destroying all civilization. The 21-minute Abattoir is another droning exercise, but this time the multi-faceted, multi-dimensional drones are left to develop organically, ebbing and flowing, while continuously changing texture. The piece that more closely relates to the first album's glitchy soundscapes is Soom 2, which is basically this album's Snow.
With the first two albums (both originally commissioned as soundtracks) KTL coined a new art of textural nuances that sounded like the equivalent of the "cosmic music" of the 1970s updated to the digital age.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Giuseppe Leone)

KTL (Editions Mego, 2006) è una collaborazione fra Stephen O'Malley dei SUNNO))) e il digitale scultore del suono austriaco Peter "Pita" Rehlberg, concepita originariamente come colonna sonora per la performance di una piece artistica. La suite in quattro movimenti di 40 minuti Forest Floor, Estranged (24 minuti) e Snow (13 minuti) fondono l’estetica glitch e l’estetica doom-droning in un paesaggio minacciosamente futuristico di ombre e echi. Stephen O'Malley suona archi, FX, amplificatory. Peter Rehlberg suona oscillatori, applicazioni, drives. KTL 2 (Editions Mego, 2007) è un viaggio ancor più cupo in qualche oscuro anfratto della mente. Con questi due album i Ktl hanno coniato una nuova arte di sfumature strutturali che è l’equivalente della musica cosmica degli anni 70 aggiornata all’era digitale.

KTL 3 (OR, 2007) was only a one-sided LP. IV (Editions Mego, 2008), produced by Jim O'Rourke, was mostly self-indulgent but the 21-minute Paratrooper injected some genuine industrial claustrophobia. On the contrary, the 15-minute Benbbet ventured into ambient glitch music, and the nine-minute Natural Trouble was just a set of quiet cosmic drones. The other pieces sounded like pretects to turn Paratrooper into a full-length album. V (Mego, 2012) was indulgent and amateurish, mostly a tribute to Phill Niblock's droning minimalism (with a piece titled to him, Phill 2, that even features a philharmonic orchestra), including a 20-minute spoken-word piece, Last Spring - A Prequel.

Sunno)))'s LP Oracle (Southern Lord, 2007), containing two side-long tracks, is the music originally conceived as the soundtrack to a performance of June 2005, re-recorded the following year by Greg Anderson, Stephen O'Malley, Atsuo (of Boris), Joe Preston (of the Melvins),Attila Csihar (of Mayhem).

Burial Chamber Trio is a collaboration among Greg Anderson of SUNNO)), Oren Ambarchi and Mayhem's vocalist Attila Csihar that released Burial Chamber Trio (Southern Lord, 2007).

Grave Temple is Stephen O'Malley with Attila Csihar of Mayhem and Oren Ambarchi that released the hour-long piece of The Holy Down (Southern Lord, 2007), created in studio by Ambarchi from live performances. The trio also recorded Le Vampire De Paris (2009) and Ambient/Ruin (recorded in 2008 and earlier although released in 2013).

6°F Skyquake (Editions Mego, 2008) is a collaboration between Stephen O'Malley and Attila Csihar, originally conceived for an art show.

Gentry Densley of Iceburn and Greg Anderson of Sunn O))) formed Ascend and released Ample Fire Within (Southern Lord, 2008), that sounds like an experiment in orchestral drones, adding instruments such as trombone, piano, the human voice and additional guitars to shape monolithic trips such as Ample Fire Within, VOG and Dark Matter. Ascend's follow-up, Ample Fire Within (Southern Lord, 2009), was even more evocative and jazzy.

Sunn O)))'s Monoliths & Dimensions (Southern Lord, 2009) featured an unusual number of guests, including Oren Ambarchi, vocalists Attila Csihar, Jessika Kenney, Earth's Dylan Carlson, and trombonists Julian Priester and Stuart Dempster. It was the most orchestral of their albums yet. Aghartha (17:34) employs French horns, violas, piano, hydrophone, English Horn and conch shell, besides the usual rock instrumentation. For a while it is just an agonizing distortion shaken by periodic exhalation. Alas, a voice comes out of this torture, surrounded by the above said instruments that behave like rising ghosts. Eventually only a few drones are left, each one a different color of the end. Big Church (9:43) piles up a female choir, a black priest's recitation, trombone, trumpet, organ and tubular bells on top of a guitar quartet (Oren Ambarchi, O'Malley, Anderson and Earth's Dylan Carlson) to create one of Sunn's most intimidating tidal waves and to pen one of their most metaphysical moments (the ending). A more conventional doom-metal atmosphere by the growling narrator and the solemn funereal riff in Hunting & Gathering (10:02), this time enhanced by a male choir. Alice (16:20) is their first composition ever to open with a drone of horns and strings. The effect is disorienting: at times it's like listening to a collaboration between Ennio Morricone and Jimi Hendrix. It's the drone to lose the battle: the instruments keep chatting till the end while the guitars recede and fade away.

Aethenor's Faking Gold & Murder (VHF Records, 2009), featuring David Tibet of Current 93 on vocals, guitarist Alexander Tucker and percussionists Nicolas Field and Alex Babel in addition to the original trio of O'Malley, O'Sullivan and DeRoguin further complicated the concept of their chamber gothic post-rock. The first movement opens with hyper-active jazz drumming and strident keyboards, but Tibet's dated vocals derail the whole thing. The second movement is a subtle sonata for tiny sounds (percussion, keyboards, electronics, vocals) that is again ruined by Tibet's declamation. The third movement is basically just a kammerspiel by Tibet with soundtrack from Aethenor. The chaotic and apocalyptic music would be interesting without the obnoxious vocal part. There is enormous talent in this line-up but Tibet acts as a real curse on the project.

Stephen O'Malley's Keep An Eye Out (Table Of The Elements, 2009) was a work for acoustic guitar and electronics.

SUNNO)))'s core duo of Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson joined guitarist Oren Ambarchi, vocalist Attila Csihar and Striborg's drummer Sin Nanna to record the two lengthy live jams of Pentemple (Southern Lord, 2009).

Aethenor's En Form For Bla (VHF, 2011) featured O'Malley, O'Sullivan, drummer Steve Noble and keyboardist Kristoffer Rygg, thus shifting the center of mass towards atmospheric improvised jazz a` la Supersilent.

The double-LP St Francis Duo (Bo Weavil, 2012) documents a live performance by Stephen O'Malley & Steve Noble, four sidelong jams that mainly highlight the drummer's oceanic work.

Stephen O'Malley's cassette Cocon & Oiseau De Nuit (Editions Mego) contains a rarity from 2006.

Nurse With Wound remixed and reworked Sunn O)))'s Zero Zero Void into The Iron Soul Of Nothing (Ideologic Organ, 2011).

Haino, Stephen O'Malley (bass) and Oren Ambarchi (drums) formed Nazoranai documented on the live Nazoranai (Ideologic, 2012).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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