Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Sunn 0))) vs. Kode9

From Derek Walmsley's interview with Kode9 in The Wire 303: "When dubstep was bogged down in too much stodgy bass, Hyperdub switched to crisp, super-light 8-bit electronics. In an era when dance music is generally self-satisfied and commercially bloated, Hyperdub releases short, sharp tracks like acupuncture darts aimed at the pleasure centers. And the self-titled debut by Burial - The Wire's album of the year in 2006 - was an emotionally overwhelming experience in a decade where sincerity is often seen as a sign of weakness. Meanwhile, Kode9's own music has suggested viable escape routes from the electronic dance continuum formulaic deadlock. When most London producers were bragging about bass weight in 2007, like kid comparing their souped-up cars, "Magnetic City" and "Stung" took graceful spins in a hover speeder. More recently, the slithering synths and Latin-inflected rhythms of "Black Sun" and "2 Far Gone" suggest Herbie Hancock sweating out heavy psychedelics, tie askew and forcing his group out of their comfort zone."

From Joseph Stannard's interview with Sunn 0))) in The Wire 302: "The walls of O'Malley's Paris appartment stare back, as he plays me [Sunn 0)))'s new album] Monoliths and Dimensions. (...) The final track on Monoliths, "Alice", begins quietly, gradually gathering itself, recalling the gritty, graceful film scores of Ennio Morricone and Bernard Hermann. There are atmospheric echoes of recent Earth, whose guitarist Dylan Carlson appears elsewhere on the album; so far, so lugubrious. Minutes from the end, however, an unexpected shift occurs. The tolling guitars recede and the listener is guided to a space somewhere between ecstatic harp-adorned reveries of the song's subject, Alice Coltrane, and the bittersweet haze of Miles Davis's "In A Silent Way/It's about that time" and "He Loved Him Madly". Into the space vacated by the song's stunning, climactic trombone solo, O'Malley projects a single word: "Priester".
He's referring to Julian Priester, veteran jazz musician, alumnus of Sun Ra's Arkestra, John Coltrane's Africa/Brass ensemble and Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi group, and initiator of two fine examples of spacious electric jazz, 1974's Love, Love and 77's Polarization. That Priester should deliver the final note on an album by this particular duo is surprising; that his musical heritage should prove so influential on their music, doubly so. There has often been a kind of lumbering, monumental grace to Sunn 0)))'s music, but it has seldom produced anything that could so readily be termed soulful, or even beautiful."

Am I the only one reading/hearing a parallel development? I've heard parallels between Dubstep and Sunn 0)))'s music before, and now I'm hearing them again!

From the two interviews, it would appear that both Sunn 0))) and Kode9 are turning away from stark, gloomy meditations on bass weight; and that both are turning to graceful, Herbie Hancock-influenced psychedelic Jazz.

Of course, it could be that the parallel development reflects not so much a convergent evolution of the musics, but the latest fad in the offices of The Wire. Assuming, however, that this is not the case, assuming that there actually are parallels, one wonders: "What does it mean?" Does the development reflect the recent political progress in the United State? Is it primarily an artistic/aesthetic process which is not related to changes in society in any relevant way? Or is it something else entirely?

2 comments:

Bruce said...

I can't address Kode 9's priorities Valter, but I may illuminate Sunn (heh) a bit. Rex Ritter of Jessamine and Fontanelle is a longtime collaborator with the band and I recall a conversation between Gregg, Stephen and Rex at one time where they talked about a "In A Silent Way"-style megajam. So I think it's an idea the Sunn men have been nurturing for awhile.
As for the greater point of tendencies towards lighter, more tingly music in the wake of the Obama ascent; I've heard this postulated elsewhere. Personally I hope not.

A Wise Birthgiver said...

Interesting point. I actually brought up the 2007 'metalstep' mix by Jamie Vex'd and Distance in my original draft of the Sunn O))) piece, but this reference was edited out - for reasons of space, I imagine.

I wonder what the metallic equivalent of the controversial Caspa would be... something like Municipal Waste, perhaps?