In the past few months, I have had a love affair of sorts with the genres of post rock and post metal. The constant build-ups, the sparse, sometimes non-existent vocals, the walls of guitar, bass, and drums have encompassed a large portion of what I have listened to this summer. The images conjured by these songs and movements have inspired me, moved me, and (in this rare instance) angered and irritated me.
Sunn O))) are merely two guitarists, Steven O'Malley and Greg Anderson who use the Sunn bass amps to create a dreary, droning tone that can sound like intensely low feedback at times. Now, I have no problem with this sound, it can be quite enjoyable at times, but not here, not on White1
. Perhaps its an acquired taste, but after sampling three albums of what seem like the exact same notes being reverberated for a period of close to a half an hour per track, I've yet to find anything enjoyable about it.
As stated above, my contempt for this album rests in the fact that there seems to be no variation whatsoever. I can take at least one song like that, for the mood and the atmosphere of it. But when you can construct an entire album using only as many notes as there are songs on the album, it bores me beyond redemption.
The misanthropy begins with the first track 'My Wall.' Starting with Sunn O)))'s signature drone, one might be able to condone this for a while. The dreary overtone can be enjoyable in a minimalist sense, that is until the lyrics enter the picture. You get the feeling that the guy speaking on this track is standing in front of a huge black wall in a long cloak. But if you listen closely to the lyrics, they are the most random, inane ones ever devised. As the single note rambles through the Sunn amp, this odd man laments and babbles about such things as (and I'm not kidding) "Johnny/jolly guitar," Steven, Greg and their amplifiers, a woman being a 'cocksucker' who 'went down' on some 'ding-dongs.' Higher feedback and what could be construed as wah-wah being used on one of the guitars is heard as the tirade of utter stupidity continues, and luckily ends at around the 11 minute mark. However, this song goes on for another 14 more. Do yourself a favor and skip it, because there is nothing rewarding to found upon finishing the song. It is sonic torture.
'The Gates of Ballard,' the middle track, adds nothing more in the instrumentation aspect of the record, as it seems like the same notes being played at the beginning of the previous track. What sounds like a female's voice can be heard yammering on for more than a minute in an odd language until the guitar goes even lower and we are treated to some drums. This is a nice break in the monotony of the first 26 minutes or so of the album, and ultimately what keeps it from sucking too badly. Until they drop out completely 8 minutes later and what remains is the most monotone note I’ve ever heard. More of this until a reprise of the beginning is heard and (thankfully) the drums return. They drop out once again as the end comes to save us from ultimate boredom.
A literal rumble brings upon the listener 'A Shaving of the Horn That Speared You.' This tone alternates between high and low for a while, never really deciding where it wants to go. A few, surprisingly clear chords resound near the two minute point. The rumble returns with said chords repeating and some melodic chants can be picked out of the cacophony of bleak atmosphere. This goes on for the remainder of the 17 minute track. The chants break up the monotony for a while, but they cannot redeem this album, no matter how hard they try.
I can enjoy ambience as much as the next person. One positive thing can be culled from this experience, and it is that I can get a lot of reading done whilst listening to these songs. Besides that, I find nothing remotely enjoyable about this album. It is drawn-out, obscenely annoying, and too repetitive to really be taken as something I can listen to again and again, as with other post rock/metal. Take my advice, do something constructive while you listen to White1
. Its best and only purpose seems to be background music.
There are some breaks in the monotony.
The dumbest lyrics and delivery concept imaginable on 'My Wall.'
Way too repetitive.
Can actually give me a headache.