Review Summary: And from the formless void something beautiful emerged.
The ever forward-thinking duo of Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley and Daniel O’Sullivan (Guapo, Mothlite) take their experimental group Aethenor to new heights with their latest release, En Form for Bla
. Also joining them is percussionist Steve Noble. And to round out the ensemble is the very special appearance of one Kristoffer Rygg, perhaps better known as Garm from Ulver. The collective talent of the minds at work here is prodigious to say the least, and En Form for Bla
stands as monolithic proof.
Aethenor have dialed back the heavier drone aspects of previous works to incorporate a more free-jazz aesthetic. The murky guitar work that churned so broadly before has been replaced by minimalistic shimmering guitar passages that leave room for the electronic sounds and deep bass to breathe comfortably. The tendencies of drone, free-jazz, electronica, and dark ambient are all present, working together homogenously for an end product that is abstract yet deliberate.
The quartet manages to evoke an undeniable otherworldly atmosphere that can shift from haunting to soothing at the drop of a hat. The subtle melodies creep through the speakers all the while accompanied by the assertive pulse of electronic bass or tom strikes. Noble’s ubiquity on the drums goes almost unnoticed due to the appropriate restraint and timing utilized. From the clattering of the crash to glistening cymbal tapping, the percussion meets the assemblage of keyboards and electronics with ethereal presence.
The gentle chaos of En Form for Bla
is compelling and surprisingly evocative for a record of its nature. Whether the music broods sinisterly or caresses with inter-stellar entrancement, something is felt. The expertly woven textures seem the result of years of making radically innovative music through the various projects of those involved. This delving into new territory illustrates a solid grasp on the direction of the group in the future and offers promise of an even more beautifully hewn product in the years to come.