In honour Uniform & The Body’s recently released collaboration Mental Wounds Not Healing on Sacred Bones, I thought I’d put together something to celebrate.
It’s only relatively recently that I’ve been able to assert the importance of collaboration albums in my mind, but since Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas (see entry #2) released one of the best albums period in 2016, my appetite for them has been impossible to sate. I always disliked songs that had ‘feat *insert artist* because I felt that they were always disjointed and failed to reflect the true nature of melding creativity. However, collaborations fix all those problems by allowing the two artists or units space to breathe and experiment. So, if like my previous self, you’re on the fence about them, here are five great collaborative albums of the last five years that’ll kick you off into the yard of belief.
The Body & Thou – Released from Love/You, Whom I Have Always Hated
For those of you unaware, The Body are a fucking collaborative machine. They’ve worked with other artists such as Full of Hell, Krieg, and even The Haxan Cloak, mixing their sludgy noise specialties seamlessly with any other artist they’re paired with. On the other hand, Thou may be a sludge band, but they are archetype of sludge bands. Perfectly distorted and perfectly slow, Thou plod through their music like a combine harvester through an arena of people.
Released from Love… is the dreamlike marriage of the bands. Bryan Funck’s vocals will be scratching and tearing a blood soaked path through the muddy instruments, whilst Chip King’s tortured mewling is often only an accompaniment in the background. Don’t let this turn you off though, this is surely pre No One Deserves Happiness The Body at work; a disconcerting listen but one that implements every facet of instrumentation to the fullest. Plus it has a cover of Vic Chestnutt that absolutely kills, so that’s pretty darn cool.
Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas – Mariner
If you don’t know about Cult of Luna you’ve missed out on music. They are the aural equivalent of raw emotions. Their previous album Vertikal will probably go down as one of my favourite albums of all time, and… I can’t say enough good words about them. On the other hand, Julie Christmas is a bit of an enigma to me; Made Out of Babies was a great post/noise band, but Spylacopa was a bit underwhelming. However, this album shows that an alchemical marriage sometimes brings out the best of two worlds.
Mariner has all the Cult of Luna trademarks; the plodding eery riffs and ambient crashing noises that absolutely leave the listener in awe, yet, one thing that is markedly absent from most of the album is the traditional vocals. Instead, Julie Christmas takes the reins in this instance, and I must admit, it works perfectly. Her cracked voice fits snugly into the aural soundscape that the band behind her have crafted, complementing the sprawling strings and keys like she was always meant for the job. Truly a life changing album.
This is one a bit of a doozy. So Dragged Into Sunlight are a bit of an outlier; they play some of the absolutely darkest music out there but it needs time to be appreciated. I specifically remember the first time I heard their album Widowmaker and I just wrote it off as slow boring dreck. But I came back to it and it melted my face off like caesium in a thunderstorm. Gnaw Their Tongues was conversely one of the most immediate bands of my life, though it was a lot later in my musical education that I found the band so that might explain it. All the albums are horrifying, terrible noise. Beautiful, horrible terrible noise.
This one is no exception. It would be best described as slower Gnaw Their Tongues? Or possibly industrial Dragged Into Sunlight. It’s really good either way. That is, if you like clips of horrid serial killer interviews stitched with grinding metallic drums and the pained howling of someone stuck halfway through a werewolf transformation.
Full of Hell are one of the best (if not THE best) grindcore bands that exist today. Their music is abrasive, poisonous, demonic and energetic to the nth degree and it shows no signs of slowing down. Able to incorporate brooding sludge elements into grind music has made them so enjoyable, and so unique to listen to. Merzbow on the other hand, is abrasive and… Well abrasive. If you’re a fan of noise, chances are you’ve heard this prolific artist’s work. He’s a master of his craft that challenges the listener at every step.
The self titled album, which is accompanied by a bonus disc, Sister Fawn (that happens to be just as long) reeks of noise influences. The first disc is some of the best grindcore you’ll ever hear, as the tone the guitars is absolutely crushing, especially so when mixed with Merzbow’s screeching static. But the second disc is where it’s really at. This feels like a collaboration. It employs Merzbow a lot more prominently and incorporates creepy as shit audio clips, paired with quite literally ear collapsing walls of noise that turn your eyeballs to useless globs of jelly.
Sunn O))) & Ulver – Terrestrials
Sunn O))) are one of those bands that you’ve probably come into contact with over the course of listening to metal and probably never gotten into. I get it, it’s hard. But Ulver tempers this lumbering behemoth comprised of black holes with more ambient sounds and a bit of an electronic touch. Ulver has undergone some massive changes since their black metal days and this album shows how even amidst the complexities of massive evolution, there is still something to be said about musical minimalism.
Terrestrials only consists of three songs, but they stretch the fabric of space-time to seemingly ridiculous proportions. All songs showcase a multi layered approach of seemingly innocuous sounds that blend to form a soundscape so beautiful it makes one want to put out their eyes. Terrestrials is thirty some minute journey that feels like one is observing the cloud strewn sky below Mt. Everest or possibly languidly gliding through the atmosphere whilst a storm brews underneath. A truly visceral experience.