Music Reviews


Children of the Black Sun


Children of the Black Sun is a masterstroke for the continually evolving NON, popular music stripped to its barest levels of interaction with the human ear – so subtle you might even forget you are listening to music, but these compositions will worm their way into your soul. It’s more concentrated experience than entertainment or diversion – inner exploration instead of catharsis. Children of the Black Sun is such a complete and fully realized piece of work that nothing more can be added or subtracted, or the spell would be broken all that would remain is a soundless void of filigree and shadow.

“Arka” begins the album with the sound of an authoritative voice reciting incantations from an ancient language, along with the sticks scraping symbols into rock; then seductively fades into a fever dream sine wave of harps gently strummed, disembodied cries, things that go bump in the night, and a single ominous organ note holding all of these sounds together into a coherent whole. The ear gradually adjusts and starts separating the sounds from one another. “Black Sin” picks up and unifies all the remaining sound from “Arka” and unifies it into an opaque drone, under which an orchestral string section torturously builds and holds the same note without release, it’s almost painful, one long tuning warmup – these two noises struggle against and compliment one another by turns – until the machine wins. The tension is unbearable.

“Serpent of the Heavens” begins with an ominous treated oboe sound, under which a force field crackles and pulses, like the energy from a black sun – it doesn’t last long as it’s overwhelmed by the sound of a thousand angry wasps, or perhaps the Enola Gay in slow flight – over this backdrop the strings of a distorted guitar are plucked, slowly and deliberately, continually repeating, while other unidentifiable sounds try to burrow into my very ear canal. As the velveteen droning finally subsides, all that is left is the oboe, warning of some nameless danger yet to come.

“Serpent of the Abyss” is a plague of locusts in an already ruined, post apocalyptic landscape. The serpent has risen, and humanity is fated to either be his bride or his next meal. True metal machine music. “The Underground Stream” sounds like the growing buzz of a generator of malevolent electrical energy, buried deep underground, keeping mysterious beings alive and nourished – you venture deeper in and have trouble making out anything but vague forms, yet the sound stays with you; or it could be a fluorescent light tube filled with angry metal bees.

“The Fountain of Fortune,” like the sirens’ song, seeks to lull and lure unsuspecting ships into the jagged rocks. It’s like those scenes in Sinbad or Hercules films, where the men would stumble upon an enchanted grotto of crystal clear water, gold coins, and virginal nymphs. “Fountain” is the track I keep playing over and over again, it’s so… pure. The track collages harmonic angel voices welcoming you to the secret cavern, the sound of water pitter-pattering on the smooth rock formations within, and what sounds like someone diving into the water every few seconds. “Son of the Sin” layers reverse-tracked invocations over an orchestra rising and falling – two notes – over and over, a John Williams nightmare. Stunning.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the bonus disk that comes with the album. It’s a 5.1 audio DVD mix of Children of the Black Sun, the first DVD release ever for Boyd Rice and NON. Let me just say that this DVD will crush you to a fine powder. It’s like the sounds on the CD taking tangible form – imagine music as a tactile rather than a sonic experience. Beware. Boyd Rice has proved himself here a master craftsman and manipulator of the very stuff of life itself.

Mute Records: • NON:

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