Words About Music
White Suns “Totem”
Where neo-industrial electronically synthesized noise and no-wave influenced punk rhythms chemically react, White Suns exists. This Brooklyn trio is three albums deep into one of the most excitingly chaotic groups of albums I’ve ever listened to. Their new album “Totem” is the synthesis of all the sounds they’ve worked with and more, this time undertaking some more disturbing Wolf Eyes-influenced ambience. While a good portion of this album’s songs rely mostly on atmosphere, some of the songs go for the more “let’s play as loud and harsh as humanly possible” vibe. “Totem” sounds like Hell. This not easy listening, but it sure is invigorating.
I have heard many albums that can be classified as “no wave” or “noise” or “noise punk,” but for some reason I sit in awe every time I play “Totem.” I just can’t get myself to believe that a band can possibly play music that sounds like this, and—even more surprising to me—that I’ve never really heard a band sound like this before. There’s the subdued torture of Wolf Eyes and Throbbing Gristle on one end of the sonic spectrum, but there’s also the all-out mayhem of Swans and Big Black on the other end. The album reaches a zenith of unbearable pain during the song “Clairvoyant” when the vocalist shouts “My god’s face is made of mirrors! My god’s face looks like my father’s! Bleed it out!” in the midst of explosions of sonic death.
If you generally enjoy songs that don’t score the soundtrack to your nightmares, you may not want to pick up this album. But for the enthusiasts of harsh, abrasive, disgustingly fierce music that also bears quite a bit of artistic merit, I really couldn’t think of a better band for you than White Suns. Their discography isn’t in the double digits and their songs don’t all sound the same. The music of White Suns could be the beginning of a new wave of no wave. “Totem” is an album that requires many synonyms to accurately describe, but I certainly would not call it boring or repetitive.
Perhaps I’m just a musical masochist, but I actually had a lot of fun listening to “Totem.” Like I said, this kind of music is certainly not for everyone. Those who don’t find noisy music appealing should probably just turn back before listening. But if you’re an open-minded music listener that is looking to test your threshold for music that you would never hear on any kind of radio, then I’d say White Suns is a great place to start. While I acknowledge that they’re not the noisiest band to ever exist, I do think that they do a great job of blurring the line between suspense and extremity.
SCORE – 8.5
FAVORITE TRACKS – Priest in the Laboratory, Prostrate, Fossil Record, Clairvoyant, World-Lock, Carrion