Terrestrials by Sunn O))) & Ulver (Southern Lord Recordings)
Sunn 0))) played their 200th show at the Oya Festival in Oslo in 2008. Two days later Ulver’s Krystoffer Rygg invited core members Stephen O’Malley (guitars) and Greg Anderson (bass) along with British multi-instrumentalist Daniel O’Sullivan (who had performed at that show) for an all-night jam at Crystal Canyon, Ulver’s recording studio. After recording the instrumental jams O’Malley and Rygg edited and worked on the parts, O’Sullivan visiting over the years, adding strings and trumpet.
Ulver’s Childhood’s End album from 2012 reminded listeners that they could indeed rock with their energetic covers of psychedelic bands from the 60’s and early 70’s. But Rygg and Ulver, with Daniel O’Sullivan joining the band after the Terrestrials sessions, have veered towards a more ambient, piano/keyboard led sound in the past decade. So it is with much relish that fans of heavier music get to hear Sunn 0)))’s guitars on a release associated with Ulver.
Let There Be Light begins quietly with much portent as strings scrape and effects hum in the aether. A throaty trumpet is introduced as the guitars build in their electrical crackling, along with the occasional bass thrum. A piano tinkles in the background, the trumpet blurts and warbles , the guitars drone as if signalling sunrise, an outpouring of pent-up energy. Then at the eight minute mark, the sounds drop except for a light trumpet burble, and a few seconds later drums roll and cymbals collide, the trumpet exulting in the rising of the sun.
Western Horn opens with bass moans, drum thumps and guitars slowly jangling as something darkly compelling develops in the mix. Eerie metallic effects flitter and swell, Anderson’s bass thuds ominously and sounds are piled up like anguished moaning and crying voices.
Eternal Return puts some of Ulver’s atmospheric dark beauty into the alloy with O’Sullivan’s languid keys softening O’Malley’s sharp guitar strums and drones. As the music surges, violins and trumpet float in. At about the halfway mark the arrangement segues to a looping and vibrant synthesizer and Rygg’s velvety voice. The finale drifts in with sawed violins, percussive guitars and menacing atmospheres. Quivering strings fade out at the end.
(by Bret Miller)