Tuesday, December 17, 2013

That time I listened to an 11-hour song

Remember that time I spent ELEVEN HOURS listening to drone record from an English band called Sabazius, live-tweeted the torture, and went absolutely fucking insane? Here are my notes.

Press the Play button, and settle in.

Not much going on yet – just one continuous feedback loop, scattered with a few different tones of drones and the odd jittery cymbal crash. Are they still tuning?

Could do without the piercing feedback wail around 1:45:00…still going…

Apparently this is just the intro, which is fair enough. Given that the song itself stretches for so fucking long, I suppose it isn’t entirely out of order to have a 2.5 hour “intro,” though if I hadn’t signed up for this there’s no way in hell I’d voluntarily listen to this much purposeless noise (and I like noise!). Maybe I should have smoked some weed or gobbled a few mushrooms to heighten the experience?

2:35:00 – rumblings. Something’s coming.
2:35:30 – A RIFF! Smothered in layers upon layers of distortion and utterly glacial, but a riff nonetheless. I am enchanted. What fresh delight? A drum beat? Praise be! This sounds dangerously close to what is colloquially known as a “song” now.
And just like that, the most useless drone twaddle imaginable has heaved its way into infinitely more interesting funeral doom country. This, I like. Suppose they’ll be doing this for awhile, then.
Tempo varies a teensy bit at 2:44:00, then again around 2:50:00…I’m beginning to think that it might not be worth analyzing every few minutes, though. Sabazius are going for the big picture here. Right now, they’re stood firmly in the droning, minimalist, slower-than-slow funeral doom camp. No sign of vocals yet. That drummer is pummeling those skins for dear life, though – raw power on display. Wonder how noodly his arms will feel after another six hours…
This shit makes Wormphlegm look like Nicki Minaj.


I spaced out and just noticed that the track is a little different! Pulsing alien drones lurking beneath the lackadaisical cymbal crashes have replaced the guitar…I think?
Oh, it’s back now. There’s a detectable melody bleeding through, with a little whiff of bluesy swagger, even! I can imagine exactly what the guitarist looks like right now – hunched over his instrument, fingers methodically downstroking, hair in his face, blank-eyed concentration on his reddened face. Probably the same as he looks when they play this shit live. Will they play this shit live? Dear god, that’s a scary thought.
This is cool, though. I dig this. I could probably listen to this for the next seven hours, especially now that they’ve brought the drums back to the party. This is pretty standard droney doomy stonery stuff, honestly – there is just so MUCH of it. It’s like the distilled spirit of a thousand really stoned Roadburn attendees.

They’ve gone silent. Are they okay? At this point in our relationship, I feel a sort of maternal concern for them. Maybe they’d like some tea.
Alright then, the drones are back. Spaceship noises, set to “bore.”
Still droning. Drone drone droning. Stopped for a minute and my heart leaped, but
here we are again. Bobbing in and out of silence, which is a welcome change at least.
Oh good, more wretched feedback. I don’t even know who I am anymore.
But – hark! What’s this? A riff? Salvation!
More molasses trapped in amber, but a riff nonetheless. There is motion. There is life. For awhile there I thought they’d collapsed onto their amps.

Forgot this was on, until those hideous feedback shrieks came squealing out of the abyss to bogart my happiness.

Time is melting into itself. Hour five? Hour fifteen? Who even knows anymore. The purpose of this release is to disorient – to “induce an altered state of mind, create psychosisaccording to Dig. I’ll bloody give them that. I’d saw off my arm for a blastbeat right now.
Riffs abate…ambient noise abounds. High-pitched drones, whining in the dark. Strange sounds percolating underneath.

VOCALS AGAIN! Well really more like a sort of forceful huff, but it was a human voice and I think I might weep from joy.
VOCAAAAALS! I think there was a word that time!
Now they’re just taking the piss. Stop shouting at me in 45 second intervals.
Or not.

Okay, I get it, You like feedback. You like Sunn 0))) and Burning Witch and Swans and I DO NOT LIKE YOU ANYMORE.

Feedbackfeedbackfeedback dronedronedrone don’t you guys have somewhere to be? My gutters need clearing out.

Thud. YEAH! Riff! Back to the ambient swirls, let’s have some more of that, boys – the stuff you were throwing down a few hours ago was ace.
Coming up on six hours. So far, I’ve counted one riff, that occasionally masqueraded as another one and tricked me thanks to my rapidly deteriorating ability to distinguish reality from Dante’s seventh circle of hell. We’re back to the feedback thing now, though. Lord have mercy.

Oh hey, they went back into playing music again when I wasn’t looking! Cheeky. We’re doing the crushing, repetitive riff in tandem with brutally slow power drums routine again, and it sounds fucking heavenly by now. Maybe that’s what Sabazius are doing – surrounding their perfectly serviceable doom song fragments with acres and acres of impossible distortion and noise to make said fragments seem like aural ambrosia from the gods’ fingertips in comparison. I’m on to you, lads.

This part’s pretty good, actually. Back to the vaguely bluesy chord progression from FUCKING HOURS ago. Head nodding involuntarily. Is this what Stockholm Syndrome is like?

This might be the longest, slowest, most drawn out, and least brutal breakdown in the history of music. Emmure is not stoked.
Downstroke-downstroke-cymbal crash. Over and over. THAT’S NOT A SONG YOU DICKS.

Hang on, this is alright. Mixing things up with a nice buzzy little riff, jumpy rums, distortion is a given but here it makes sense. I can even hear a bass thrumping away underneath. This is a totally solid droney doomy stonery song. Can we just do this for awhile, lads? I need a break.

Audio collapse. Everything’s fallen off, the song’s disappeared, it’s all silence and squeaky, record-scratch barks of noise then – no, it’s can’t be…more FUCKING feedback.
If Sunn 0))) and Dick Dale had a really ugly baby, that’s what this weird slide riff would beat up on the playground.

Almost to the seven hour mark. Feedback reigns. Crucial Blast catalogue on blast. Burning Witch crumbling in the ashes. My eardrums ache. Pure, high bells of feedback soar…then stop.

Gentle strumming echoes faintly. Glorious respite. Neil Young and Earth and lovely chords, what is this? Slick strings, resonant, contemplative riffs, standing alone. Sweat drips down the guitar neck, lubing up the tired steel. This really reminds me of that one Earth record they put out a few years ago, The Bees something something. It’s a murkier, malevolent imagining of that same Americana-tinged drone. Please don’t stop.


It was all a beautiful dream. Collapse. Resurrect. Bleed out. Feed back. Drone.
Cruel, piercing squeals cut above the drones, and garbled noise takes over.

Delving back into the rare beauty of the Earth-worship of a few aeons ago. I am thankful.

Finally, it makes sense. The Earth-inspired delicacy and light tones melt into the buzzing, slowly percolating drones, distortion embellishing and embracing the staggeringly simplistic riff with its crown of effects.
And the clarion call returns, screaming wildly like an out of tune jazz trumpeter, punishing me for my insolence, for daring to believe that there was a point to any of this.

And silence.

Rise of the machines. Quietly, purposefully chugging, industrial haze. Imperceptible rise and fall of the drones. Are they coming for me? I know they are. They taunt me.
Tribal beats. Phantom hands clapping, beating the talking drums. They promise nothing.


Slow, sad, almost funereal beats complement the muted guitar; there’s a riff buried in there somewhere, if only just. This is standard funeral doom/drone stuff right here. It’s comfortingly familiar. The relief is palpable. So quiet. I fear the worst lies ahead. A lone drum beats a glacial tattoo.

And silence. Or?

The drums return. That fucking crash cymbal is my Judas. Back to the extended, slothful drum solo. You sound like a bootleg Protools plugin. How I loathe thee.

Scraps of melody bob to the surface. There’s a plan here. Flesh hangs off the skeleton, binding its sinews onto white. Perky little fuzzbomb riff, slowed down to -666 miles per hour, calms the drums. Perfectly reasonable drone song. Digging the chirpy little echoes.


And silence.

Then…a murmur. An unnamed beast growling in its dreams.

And silence.
Slight, melancholy drones (drones drones drones always drones) simmer.

Slap down those beats. Strum that guitar. Churn out those churny riffs. Thrum that bass.

VOCALS! Yelling words! The sheer novelty of it’s got me all aflutter. Fuck knows what he’s shouting about all hoarse-like, but it must be important enough to warrant inclusion in this horrorshow.
Not for long, though; mustn’t let me get too comfortable.
Back to the minimalist “thud-thud” drum+repetitious fuzz riff thing.
How in the name of all things unholy are they still standing?
Unless they’re all flopped over onto a couch or something.

That nice little bluesy riff is back again. Hello, old friend.

They’re playing around a bit. That steady droned riff is still there. Nothing new to report. Back on the wagon.

Yo, FUCK that blaring note that doesn’t ever end and instead multiplies into a dead clown’s chorus of little blaring notes and coils around itself and laughing spreads its wings.
Back to the drones. This is cold, clear, brittle – a winter’s day of a lingering note. I don’t care how much distortion you pile on after two minutes, my ears hurt – and you just did it again!!
And now it’s a drone song again. There is a little more going on now, but not much. I’m cautiously optimistic.
This is almost doom by now. Warm memories of Electric Wizard and Saint Vitus wash over me. I wish this sounded like “Dying Inside,” because I am.
This riff is like the most achingly slow, joyless rendition of “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum” ever recorded by mortals.  Now that I’ve typed that out I can’t get the thought out of my head. This riff is dead to me.

That same fucking riff from seven hours ago. This same fucking song. I have nothing new to say.


THAT SAME FUCKING RIFF, just chugging merrily along like it hasn’t got a care in the world. What is that new noise? There’s a new noise. SOS


I’m out of words.


Loud angry fuzz. Wet cats.

Intensity building.

Swans? A neutered Godflesh? Words fail me.

I’m so close to the end now that literally nothing could inspire any sort of energy or criticism. They are still playing that fucking riff. I hope they’re having a wonderful time.

Quiet drone, endlessly looping.




Collapse. Finality. Freedom.