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on 25 August 2009
I am revising my review based on further extensive (perhaps excessive] listening.

This is an album that, more than most, benefits from volume, repeated listening and high quality hifi. It isn't an easy listen, and there is a good chance many listeners will have to invest some considerable effort into it. To be honest, I am staggered by this album. Its scope is really quite incredible and the detail is awe-inspiring.

I was a little unconvinced by the Attila's vocals in the first review. This is where multi listens is helpful because my brain, at least, become less distracted by the linguistic content and was able to hear it within the wider context.

I like the idea of Randell Dunn but I don't always like what he does to the sound of drums and his records sometimes seem to me to lack dynamic range and crisp high frequencies. On this album, I have no reservations at all. The recording of this must have been very challenging, as it has a wide variety of instruments (from the space-time-continuum altering guitars and associated speakers and more speakers and more speakers to delecate cymbal sounds and scratching strings, and from three acoustic bass guitars to female vocal chanting/singing). Deeply impressive.

There's a definate journey feel about this album, which I like, starting with the abrupt onset of high-volume downtuned guitars to the light and astral gliding of the trombone at the end, covering an enormous amount of ground in the middle.

As a drone metal fan, I rate this as the single most significant and impressive drone metal album of the noughties. Simply majestic. In my top 5 albums of the noughties without a shadow of a doubt. I will never listen to music in the same way again. Oh, and the presentation is great too!

I really cannot recommend this highly enough.

[25th August 2009]

I suspect this will turn out to be one of the definitive drone metal albums of the 00s. Perhaps a tad too much vocals for me (on tracks 1 and 3) but I'm sure others will say not enough!

I've noticed Amazon pairs this album with Isis. However, I suspect that if you like Monoliths and Dimensions, you'll also like Black Bone Angel's new one too. Check it out! It is superb: Verdun

Can't wait for the upcoming Om, Shrinebuilder and A Storm of Light albums now...
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on 6 June 2009
I am so glad Sunn have progressed and started to think more than push just volume and bleak depths. As much as I have loved Sunn since day one, i've been awaiting this kind of 'conceptual' release that featured more than just moogs, bass, travis bean guitars and nice Sunn Amps. The first 3 tracks are nothing short of heavy, obscure and unique in variations for this band, but when 'Alice' kicks in (which i dont think is a refernce to Miles Davis, is more aimed at the late Alice Coltrane! THE HARP! THE HARP!) the song just wants to rip my skin off, and get covered in pink tar and monolithic fibres. I dont know what they can do to top this, but if they were to die (like the real sun will one day) the this is the perfect swan song. An essential purchase for late or newcomers to this band...
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on 21 May 2009
Monoliths & Dimensions is not only a strong contender for the best Sunn O))) album but also it could well be one of the greatest records I've heard in the past few years.
The range of sounds that the band are willing to draw from has increased remarkably in that the album features a host of different instruments from string and brass ensembles to choirs to harps and more besides. It's a treasure trove of an album with each of the titanic four tracks featuring collaborations galore from previous Sunn stalwarts and fresh faces.
As the name implies it's a huge album, the artwork barely fitting the cover is a clue. At times towering and terrifying, Monoliths also has a few surprises up its sleeve in some of the more quieter moments.
The use of contrast on a Sunn album has never been more exciting or profoundly affecting.
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on 29 November 2011
Having read the reviews of M&D, it seems the likers think it's great without qualification and the haters hate either because it was too much for them, or not enough.

I would like to review the music of the album, not the cover art or the other artists that they may or may not have been quoted as mentioning once.

1. Argatha- I could listen to this all day long. They are using instruments in different ways to produce different effects. I get an impression of vast space and altered landscapes from this music. Personally I am a great fan of Atilla Csihar and his vocals in this really make the track worth listening to. It sounds as though they were attempting to create a sense of horror by musical composition alone, in a similar fashion to Lustmord.

2. Big Church (megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért) is a song of one word (the really long one) reproduced in a variety of forms. Which in itself is interesting. It feels a bit like an experiement, which I think worked about 70%. It's not my favourite track but it works well enough, and to be honest if you don't want experiments don't buy this. The choir is a little odd, but also different, and therefore I cannot criticise them for using a different vocal method.

3. Hunting and Gathering (Cydonia)- This track vies for my attention with Argatha in the running for favourite. I love Attila singing partially in his native language as he pronounces the words in a totally different way to the other tracks on this album. It is probably the only Sunn 0))) composition I would refer to as a "song", and I do not think this is a bad thing. It is very difficult to see how much longer they could keep creating albums solely of guitar drone alone, and have been incorporating more and more words and drums into the mix to keep it from getting stale. If anyone would like to fault a band for changing things, don't buy this, just put 00 Void on a loop and shut up.

4. Alice - Possibly the best track on this album, but one that doesn't press upon your consciousness like the other tracks, which can be claustrophobic in atmosphere. This track really breaths, and allows the listener to relax at the end of a quite difficult listen. Some of the minimal bass sounds are as compelling as Bathory Eszerbet from Black One or A Shaving of the Horn that Speared You from White 1.

Overall then, this album is a great progression from previous releases, and cannot be seen as bland repetition. Despite this, they do not cast aside their entire history, and still incorporate elements of previous releases to create a contiguous development between Black One and M&D (Altar doesn't count as it has another band's influence in it). I would recommend this to anyone that likes drone.
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on 16 March 2010
I bought this on CD when it first came out,its a fantastic album,so why did i buy it on vinyl as well?Like the Domkirke and Oracle vinyl this seems like the perfect format, it is a beautiful object in itself and i suppose it is a bit of nostalgia,one for the record collector brigade,to be played,not filed away.
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on 19 May 2009
To be honest, I'm going to keep this short, the above review is pretty good and is a pretty valid description - the only thing I'll say is that I thought the "guest" vocal on track 1 was terrible and would've been vastly improved by removal. Aside from that though, this is a great album and would be a brilliant introduction to this band.
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on 8 October 2010
I either own or have heard most of Sunn's records and I would definitely agree with those who rate this as their strongest album so far. Having said that, I think Sunn suffer from having a slightly pretensious fanbase who must know full well that all their albums sound exactly the same but dont seem willing to admit it. I know so many people who prefer one record from another but come on, I'm sure even Greg Anderson is aware of the fact they possess a humor that their fans dont. Sunn have certainly not needed to release so much music. They seem to be popular with those who go to atp festival every year, are too bored or scared to discover other better doom and drone music and own more Sunn t shirts than actual records.One or two albums would have done fine by these guys and would certainly have made them more unique. But, as with many others it seems, their popularity staggers me and seems to have sadly become a bit of a fashion statement. Shame as this album is great.
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on 18 May 2009
'Monoliths & Dimensions' is the latest full length from Sunn O))) since 2006's 'Altar' split with Japanese droners Boris. I'll stick my neck out here & say that this is the best release from these sludge-ridden heathens, topping personal favourite 'Black 1'. Yes i'll be honest, it took me a while for the whole Sunn/drone vibe to hit, but if it is ever going to happen for the curious, this will be the one that does it.

One of the most impressive things about this band is the way they take the limited format of the drone sub-genre & twist & stretch it into new & interesting shapes, making the next release different & just as refreshing as the last. 'Aghartha' starts out typically with riffs undualating beneath a wall of noise. Attila Csihar is on hand for the spoken word vocals, which give the piece such a menacing vibe it's scary. The track winds down until there's nothing left but the spoken word & some random samples including sploshing water. So far - so Sunn, albeit absolutely superb.

From here on in the album takes a different turn, with horns & a female choir joining the chaos on 'Big Church'. 'Hunting & Gathering' takes probably the most straight forward structure but again utilises creepy vocals & horns/trumpets. A very 80's John Carpenter-esque synth is also used throughout this track & rounds the whole thing off in spectacular fashion. Two listens later & this is possibliy my favourite track by the band.

Closing piece 'Alice' is the most experimental & uplifting of the four. The 16 odd minutes slowly builds with a frankly beautiful guitar tone, adding horns again & more twisted synth subtly incorporated into the mix. This track is the most beautiful of the bands repetoire & builds to a gorgeous free flowing jazz trumpet solo with splashes of synth & harps washing over it.

So less intense in parts, insidiously creepy in others but an all together amazing listen from the Southern Lord camp yet again. If your curious about what this band has to offer, this would be the place to start. Everything we know about Sunn o))) and much more besides.

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on 12 June 2009
Speaking as a retired recording and live musician, who owns approx 5000 albums and has never felt compelled to review an album in his life prior to now, where do I begin to describe this unique piece of art. This is a PIECE OF WORK. Creativity and imagination that uses existing styles like Black Sabbath like riffs (only better but The Sun have being doing that for years), Gregorian Chants, Jazz and Soundtracks from David Lynch movies and Hell to make new magic...........wish I had time to say more but....... SOMA, Greg and your collaborators (must give special mention to Atilla), this must have taken you guys an absolute age to construct.....WELL DONE AND THANK YOU!
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on 1 June 2009
This album has nothing to do with why I've loved sunn o))) since their first album. Gone are the powerful minimalist aesthetics: both musically and visually. Gone is the power and atmosphere of the music found on Flight Of The Behemoth, Black One, Bass Aliens.

The music on M&D is pretentious to say the least. It sounds like a band TRYING really hard to be `challenging'.

Other reviews note Iancu Dumitrescu, Arvo Part and Gerard Grisey as influences and I know O'Malley has listened to Dumitrescu. However, this album does not begin to approximate the aforementioned. For example, the vocals on "Big Church :megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért" sound more like a 60's sci-fi B movie soundtrack than Part. Yea... real spooky... ooowwwooo.

The standard verse chorus/ verse chorus conventions on "Hunting & Gathering (Cydonia)" sound too obvious now that the power of the drones have given way to a more transparent sound.

The final track is obviously influenced by Miles Davis' "In A Silent Way" and it makes a nice listen. But, sunn o))) assert that the orchestration is an exercise in orchestral feedback and is not `sunn o))) with strings': rather and incorporation of different instrumentation into their frequency music. However, the album really does sound like sunn o))) with stings - the propaganda dissolves once you've heard it.

The visuals on the LP are a little silly - the photos (or `art work') of the band might be appreciated by the teeny- poppers amongst us. If you're into Black Metal Hammer Horror genre bands; you'll like it.
If you want music with power and atmosphere that transports you - don't go for this LP.

I'd recommend "Miserere" and "Kanon Pokajanen" by Arvo Part, Pierres Sacrees (ED MN 1003) by Dumitrescu, "In a Silent Way" Miles Davis, "Floating Frequencies/ Intuitive Synthesis: vol 1 - 3" by ELEH "In Oceans Abandoned by Life I Drown/ ...To Live Again as a Servant of Darkness" by Nordvargr.

If you want a real exercise in orchestral feedback, go for Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music" performed by the Zeitkratzer orchestra (Live).

If you're a sunn o))) completist: get M&D: but I bet you won't play it much.
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