The Dawn of a Primal Sun and Resonance Rituals at Barbican

Author Иль Гурн
Category Columnists, Culture, Lifestyle, People, Town
Date April 9 2024
Reading Time 2 min.

The Dawn of a Primal Sun and Resonance Rituals at Barbican

Just days after Sunn O))) announced their London gig, tickets at the Barbican Centre swiftly vanished. The air buzzed with anticipation as the scarce ticket offerings popped up sporadically on resale platforms, only to be swiftly claimed by the ardent. By some twist of fate, I too managed to secure my spot just in the nick of time.

Sun O))) Photo: Ilya Gurn

Sunn O))), with a quarter-century legacy, isnt merely one ofthe influential; they stand as the vanguard at the crossroads of dark ambient, noise rock, and drone metal. For the uninitiated, they might not be well-known, yet for the devotees, Stephen OMalley and Greg Anderson are nothing short of the high priests of the noise pantheon, the experimental sounds sorcerers, the dark heroes of even darker realms. Their live performances have achieved legendary status, not solely for the immersive ambience but also for their deep atonality and decibel-defying volume.

Within the sanctum of the Barbican Centre, OMalley and Anderson erected the totemic semicircle of tube amplifiers and acoustic cabinetstheir signature wall of sound. As the shows start neared, the last vacant seat in my row was claimed by a fan, his leather jacket a banner for Napalm Death, his emotions palpable as he exclaimed, Excuse me, excuse me, so exciting! while bumping the knees of those ready for the concert.

Living up to their enigmatic reputation, Sunn O)))’s members didnt make their appearanceuntil a tangible wall of smoke materialized before the audience. The hall literally quiveredin response to the inaugural chordBut, was it truly a chord? Sunn O)))’s music defies simple categorization. Through their guitars, augmented by effects, the raw power of analog amplifiers, acoustic feedback, and the venues very architecture, OMalley and Anderson craft a soundscape too complex to label as noise. Its a deafening, occasionally ominous symphony of distortions dominated by low frequencies, devoid of traditional harmonies, melodies, or structure, with rhythm emerging sporadically from the oscillating, effect-saturated guitar signal.

For a span of ninety minutes, Sunn O))) engaged in a kind of myth-making, their presence alone agitating the air. Amidst the rare stillness of two brief pauses, an unexpected exodus ensueda phenomenon rarely witnessed in Londons concert lore. Initially, I, too, braced for my unguarded ears to rebel in pain. At times, the musicianssilhouettes would pierce the density of the thick smoke, their hands ascending in harmony before unleashing another sonic explosion, its genesis shrouded in mystery. Reduced to physical essence, their sound bypassed the usual emotional and mood modulation of music. It roared instead of sheer force, of sensory thresholds, and, paradoxically, of a profound stillness.

As the performance drew to a close, with Sunn O))) resting their guitars upon the stage, the sound waned at their command, and the hall responded with its own attempt to bellow, as though yearning to emulate the auditory spectacle. Expressing gratitude, Stephen and Greg neared the stages edge, revealing their faces beneath their hoodsfaces of the high priests of the noise pantheon, denizens of a primal Sun, where every sound aspires to solidify into substance.