Monolithic Undertow Harry Sword
Every once in a while a book comes along that feels like it was somehow written specifically with you in mind, and for me that’s the category that Harry Sword’s new opus, MONOLITHIC UNDERTOW, falls squarely into.
Venturing to the very furthest reaches of the drone continuum, Harry uncovers the vibrations that unite a far greater range of sounds and experience than I’d anticipated. The amplifier worship of bands like Earth and Sunn O))); the eternal hum of cosmic background radiation; the fizzing circuits of electronic pioneers like Éliane Radigue and Pauline Oliveros; the queer moon music of Coil; Hawkwind’s cosmic bedsit squalor; the single-minded devotional states achieved by The Theatre of Eternal Music and Tony Conrad; the transcendent ragas of Alice Coltrane; the radical kosmische explorers of post-war Germany; the desolate Midlands techno of Regis… all of them and so many more capture and are captured by the slow note, the drone, the MONOLITHIC UNDERTOW, and embarking on this journey with Harry as my guide was a true pleasure.
The formidable range of interviewees here (Brian Eno, Terry Riley, Rhys Chatham, Lee Dorian, Dylan Carlson, Laura Cannell, Sarah Davachi…) help to frame an incredible depth of research and a lifetime of experience, but crucially this is every bit a book for curious newcomers as much as the ‘heads’… Reading MONOLITHIC UNDERTOW has the feel of chatting at the back of a gig over a few beers, and it’s a welcoming and expansive conversation.