Sunn O)))’s ØØ Void is about to be reissued again - just in time for Christmas! - with an extra side of collaborations with Nurse With Wound or Steven Stapleton to go with your stuffing. ØØ Void represents a stage in the development for Sunn O))) when they remained outsiders to the experimental music art world. Their reinvention of The Melvins’s ‘Hung Bunny’ as ‘Rabbits Revenge’ asserts their heritage from the outskirts of alternative rock music, albeit it is an unsuccessful cover compared to the original as Sunn O))) remove many of the redneck Sabbath elements that make the original work, for, unsurprisingly, more drone bass. The album lacks the complexity that Sunn O))) have subsequently developed, compared to albums like Monoliths & Dimensions, but it is, at least, as enjoyable. Throughout it revels in a type of filth that seems to have little mediation from live performance. Their more recent albums, are not without their merits, but have a more manicured sheen that detracts from the intensity of the songs and has required a reimagining of drone’s parameters. The tracks on ØØ Void are less concerned by progression, ‘Richard’, for instance plods at great volume and depth with little need for variation until it disintegrates at the end. It is actual unabashed drone. ‘Ra at Dusk’ is the only track that could be seen as pushing the limits of Sunn O)))’s minimalism as the violin, heavily processed by effects, is manipulated freely on top of tape hiss and the ever present bass. However this is only a partial change and is the most pleasing section of the album as it is less ponderous. Of course Sunn O))) are going to be of limited appeal, but ØØ Void is an album that it is worth investigating even if it is out of morbid interest.
The bonus material with the reissue contains an album titled The Iron Soul of Nothing disk begins with a passage that sounds a little like Rhys Chatham’s ‘Ascention’ and is, in theory, a moderately good counterpoint to ØØ Void as it shows a more harmonically rich approach to drone music. If it was not for some unsettling 1970s sci-fi super-computer noises and a vaguely middle-eastern sounding scale misused to creepy effect, it would be a little like religious mediation music. ‘Ra at Dawn’ is revisited, and extended, stretching the original to uncover moments of rumbling bass that sounds like a distant helicopter. Nurse with Wound’s reimagining of the song with what seems like sampled cymbal noises subverts the original cleverly. The only problem is that it is about an eight as fun to listen to. Yet even worse, the vocals on ‘Ash On The Tress’ are pretty unbearable in a late-1970s crap metal type of way rendering only two thirds of the collaboration listenable. The bonus material, as in many cases, is a little pointless. However the reissue is a worthwhile reminder of Sunn O)))’s – cliché alert – gut-busting, granite heavy, darkness-invoking music.