Drone legends Sunn O))) bring their new concept, Shoshin Duo, to Thalia Hall for one bone-rattling nightShannon Nico Shreibakon December 7, 2022 at 6:00 pm

Over the course of 24 years and nine full-length studio releases, drone-metal outfit Sunn O))) have cultivated a lofty mystique. In fact, their reputation often precedes them: you’ve probably heard the lore of their 120-decibel live shows, with their glacial cadences and bone-rattling soundscapes. But their first Chicago appearance since a 2019 stint at Rockefeller Chapel is the local debut of a new endeavor called Shoshin (初心) Duo. This project pares Sunn O))) down to its founding members, Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, for a maximalist display of volume, harmonics, and distortion. Shoshin is the Buddhist concept of learning with a “beginner’s mind,” surrendering preconceived notions in favor of openness and radical zeal. This approach bears a natural kinship with the modus operandi of Sunn O))). They’ve explored the outer limits of what a guitar-amp-pedal rig can achieve, pushing listeners to reconsider what music can and should be. 

Buddhism has been a frequent theme in Sunn O)))’s work in recent years, and it’s a personal source of inspiration for O’Malley. On 2015’s Kannon, Sunn O))) used equally jolting and spellbinding compositions to explore the transformative power of suffering through the lens of the Buddhist goddess of mercy. When they began tracking 2019’s Life Metal at Chicago’s Electrical Audio, O’Malley and Anderson pursued a daily practice of setting aside 12 minutes at the beginning and/or end of each studio session to explore the limitations of a single modal drone. That methodical cultivation of calmness, akin to yoga or meditation, informed the contemplative, expansive music they released on the sister album to Life Metal, called Pyroclasts. However Shoshin Duo materialize, one thing is certain: it’ll be a full-body experience. Whether it leans more toward exorcism or meditation, only time will tell.

Sunn O))) Shoshin Duo Ready for Death and Deep Tunnel Project open. Tue 12/13, 9 PM, Thalia Hall, 1807 S. Allport, $32, VIP $77-$432, opera box (six tickets) $360, 17+

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