For over twenty years, Sunn O))) have been challenging the way we think about music. In that relatively brief time, core members Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson have forged connections between the worlds of metal, drone, contemporary composition, jazz, and minimalism with startling results, all while remaining true to the eternal principles of volume, density, and weight. This spring and summer 2019 they return to Berlin twice for the first time since 2015, in support of Life Metal, their first studio album in four years, which is to be released worldwide on 26 April 2019 via Southern Lord.
On 3 April 2019, Southern Lord Records (co-founded by O’Malley and Anderson themselves) collaborates with Editions Mego sub-label Ideologic Organ (run by O’Malley) to present a listening session. O’Malley will play Sunn O)))’s new record over Berghain Säule’s intensive soundsystem, before closing the night with a set as DJ Caveman Skull. Showcasing the LP’s completely analogue production and signal path, which extends from the input of the band's amplifiers and the air coming off the speakers in front of the microphones to the needle touching the pressed vinyl on your turntable, the evening presents Life Metal in its ideal listening setting.
The development of Life Metal began at the very beginning of 2018, when Sunn O))) co-founders O'Malley and 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, but without forgetting the accomplishments forged during their first two decades of existence.
After gathering twice last spring to write, conceptualise, and jam, in addition to holding a pre-production session at Dave Grohl’s 606 Studios together with T.O.S. on Moog, the band spent just over two weeks working at Chicago’s famed Electrical Audio Studio with Steve Albini at the helm. The results are astounding; the breadth of colour and sound are vast, impeccably recorded, and completely accurate in their representation. 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 more logical executive process.
The album took shape through collaborative explorations with Hildur Guðnadóttir, the renowned cellist, film music composer, and former member of the bands Múm, Pan Sonic, and Angel; Tim Midyett, a close friend of Greg and Stephen since the Seattle days of the early 90s (and member of Silkworm, Bottomless Pit and Mint Mile), who occupied a foundational role by tying earth to sound with wicked performances on aluminium neck bass and baritone guitars; and prolific new music composer Anthony Pateras, who arranged and recorded an incredible contribution of pipe organ for a piece titled "Troubled Air."
The listening sessions precedes two Sunn O))) live shows on 30 and 31 July at Festsaal Kreuzberg, each of which will showcase a special performance, respectively.