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    10 CDs of 2006 (with mp3s): part 4

    And finally, my pick for best album of 2006:

    1. Sunn O))) / Boris, Altar

    Before I say anything, I should acknowledge that a fictional version of this album (accurate down to the participation of Dylan "Earth" Carlson) appeared in the 2005 April Fool's Day edition of the Aquarius Records newsletter, in which the album consists of a single E chord, with each band contributing a single note.

    Pretty funny. And there's truth to the fact that this record could have been made with about that much investment of effort: since both Boris and Sunn O))) have rabid fan-bases, both acts could have come together and operated more-or-less on autopilot, piled up by-the-numbers guitar drone, and they probably would still have made bank (it's not for nothing that the title of the fictional parody album is Reserve Not Yet Met). So the fact that the end product isn't content to rest on its laurels is all the more amazing.

    There are the requisite "heavy" pieces here: the opener ("Etna") and the closer ("Blood Swamp") are pretty much what you'd expect the collaboration to produce, which is not to say that they're not accomplished pieces of monolithic roar. But the album's real achievement is in the way that the intervening tracks diverge from comfort zones and expectations, and produce four tracks of genre-defying occultist weirdness: "NLT" is a gong-and-bass soundscape, "The Sinking Belle" is a Metal-inflected ballad (with vocals by singer-songwriter Jesse Sykes), "Akuma No Kuma" is an electronic anthem full of messed-up vocoder'd vocals and bombastic horns (maybe the soundtrack to a Conan movie set in Kirby-esque deep space), and "Fried Eagle Mind" is a trance-inducing bit of opiated ambience and static. The bonus disc, featuring Dylan Carlson wrangling daemonic Telecaster all over it, is just plain icing on the cake. This is the only album I bought this year on the day it was released (also the only one I bought at Metal Haven) and the only album I was eagerly anticipating that did not disappoint me (hello, Joanna Newsom and Lady Sovereign).

    Listen: "Akuma No Kuma," by Sunn O))) and Boris

    Bonus link!: Sunn O)))'s Steven O'Malley interviewing Dylan Carlson for Decibel.

    Extra bonus!: Chicago residents might want to hit the MCA sometime this month, where my pal Terence Hannum has an installation up. Entitled "Evocation," it consists primarily of video projection of a Sunn O))) performance. (Terence has curated a month's worth of drone performances at the MCA in conjunction with this installation; the first one was last night, featuring Rebis' own White/Light. Who are also playing tomorrow at the Empty Bottle, opening for the Rhys Chatham Guitar Trio. Wow. Heavy goodness all over the place this month.)

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    Wednesday, February 07, 2007
    6:54 PM


    To me the best album of 2006 is Stadium Arcadium by the Red Hot Chili Pepper. They're #1 on rankopedia.com.
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