SUNN O))) is pleased to present Life Metal, their first new studio album in four years, due for release on Southern Lord Recordings in April 2019. The album will be supported by their first US tour since 2017 and the premier US tour of their 2019-2020 season, including stops at The Masonic Lodge in Detroit, Howard Theatre in Washington, DC, Agora Theatre in Cleveland, Rockefeller Chapel in Chicago, The Caves in Pelham, and Brooklyn Steel in Brooklyn. Dates and details can be found below, with more info to surface soon.
Read a new interview with SUNN O))) and watch the Life Metal teaser now via Stereogum HERE
At the very beginning of 2018, SUNN O))) co-founders Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson set out on a path toward a new album production. They were both determined to create new music and a new method of working in the studio, without forgetting the long and proud history of production and studio accomplishments forged during their first two decades of existence, and the members’ own musical experiences out of the bands. One long term goal was completely clear: to record SUNN O))) with Steve Albini in his Electrical Audio studio. Albini took the call, said “Sure, this will be fun. I have no idea what is going to happen.”
Anderson and O’Malley gathered twice that spring for writing, conceptualizing, and riff woodshedding in the very building where the band was formed: Downtown Rehearsal in Los Angeles. Sonic cosmoses, flashes of abstract color (synthetic and objective), and themes emerged from the mastered depths of saturation and circuits between the two players and their mountains of gear. Themes developed in terms of brightness and energy, while visionary cues pointed toward subconscious areas of practice and the pair realized they were exploring other zones of consciousness via sound/time and sound/energy manipulation. In early summer, a pre-production session with full backline, as a trio with T.O.S. on Moog, was recorded at Dave Grohl‘s 606 studios, Northridge, California.
In July 2018, SUNN O))) spent just over two weeks in Chicago at Electrical Audio (Studio A) with Albini at the helm. The results are astounding: there is breadth and luminosity of color, 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. Guðnadóttir has performed as a live collaborator of SUNN O))) and a renowned film music composer, as well as a former member of the bands Múm, Pan Sonic, and Angel. She was a longtime collaborator with the composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (RIP). Guðnadóttir 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 Anderson and O’Malley 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 aluminum 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 LP), at Schlosskappelle, Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart. String theory of space.
The resulting album is titled Life Metal. It is fully realized and completely real. The record was produced by the core of O’Malley and Anderson and 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 and 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 color representing depth of sound pressure in the work.
There is a second more meditative LP titled Pyroclasts, also recorded by Steve Albini in parallel, and which will be revealed in the autumn 2019 with all music performed by Stephen, Greg, T.O.S., Tim Midyett, and Hildur Guðnadóttir. Further details will be released later.
SUNN O))) is touring in Europe this March, in the US in April and again in September, and again in Europe and the UK in October. See all confirmed dates below and watch for more tour updates to be issued soon.