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Summary

Monolithic Undertow alights a crooked path across musical, religious and subcultural frontiers. It traces the line from ancient traditions to the modern underground, navigating archaeoacoustics, ringing feedback, chest plate sub-bass, avant-garde eccentricity, sound weaponry and fervent spiritualism. 

From Neolithic beginnings to bawdy medieval troubadours, Sufi mystics to Indian raga masters, cone shattering dubwise bass, Hawkwind's Ladbroke Grove to the outer reaches of Faust and Ash Ra Temple; the hash-fueled fug of The Theatre of Eternal Music to the cough syrup reverse hardcore of Melvins, seedy VHS hinterland of Electric Wizard, ritual amp worship of Earth and Sunn O))) and the many touch points in between, Monolithic Undertow explores the power of the drone - an audio carrier vessel capable of evoking womb like warmth or cavernous dread alike. 

In 1977 Sniffin' Glue verbalised the musical zeitgeist with their infamous 'this is a chord; this is another; now form a band' illustration. The drone requires neither chord nor band, representing - via its infinite pliability and accessibility - the ultimate folk music: a potent audio tool of personal liberation. Immersion in hypnotic and repetitive sounds allows us to step outside of ourselves, be it chant, a 120dB beasting from Sunn O))), standing front of the system as Jah Shaka drops a fresh dub or going full headphone immersion with Hawkwind. These experiences are akin to an audio portal - a sound Tardis to silence the hum and fizz of the unceasing inner voice. The drone exists outside of us, but also - paradoxically - within us all; an aural expression of a universal hum we can only hope to fleetingly channel....

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 Harry Sword (P)2021 Orion Publishing Group

Critic reviews

"An inspired and intuitive navigation of the drone continuum...with a compass firmly set to new and enlightening psychedelic truths." (Beck)

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Underground, Overground, wandering feedback....

Ever wondered what links the Big Bang theory, Black Sabbath, Alice Coltrane, Ravi Shankar & Doom Metal?
Reading the list of bands on the back cover of the book read like snapshot of my record collection.
The first few pages name checks Alice Coltrane, Bongripper, Basic Channel, Doom Metal, Sunn O))) & Indian Ragas, which read like my playlist for the day, that’s it, I was sold, I was all in, I bought the book & the audiobook ( yes it’s that good) and I wasn’t disappointed, Monolithic Undertow is a deep dive into the drone that weaves a path through Neolithic structures, spiritualism, underground music through the decades to the present day, & ties it all together, it was like a lightbulb going off, this is why I’ve been obsessively hunting out certain types of music, I’ve been chasing the drone in search of my own sonic oblivion!
Even if you’re not familiar with many of the bands namechecked here, this is a fantastic book about music, both ancient, and modern.

4 people found this helpful

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Droning on and on.

Whilst very informative and revelatory it is tarnished at times by the authors style which is a bit too academic in places and reminds me of Paul Morley whom also likes the scan / sound of his own prose rather than subject. That and the occasional venting of his own obviously frustrated political view on brexit shadowing the subject matter.
Having said that it’s well read by the author and worth a read /listen.

2 people found this helpful