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Monolithic Undertow

In Search of Sonic Oblivion
  • Author
    • Harry Sword
Regular price £10.99
Regular price Sale price £10.99

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'An inspired and intuitive navigation of the drone continuum . . . with a compass firmly set to new and enlightening psychedelic truths' BECK

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...
  • Published: Feb 10 2022
  • Pages: 464
  • 198 x 128mm
  • ISBN: 9781474615259
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Press Reviews


    This is a masterpiece, heavy, fun, mad, wild, inspiring, mind-blowing, massively deep though never precious, so many tangents somehow brought together with clarity and vision, love the idea of a left-hand path history, and the connections between the beginnings of the universe, ritual music and modern electronic rock is jaw-dropping. I love it, this is the music book of the year and the ultimate book on the sound of the eternal now. This is going to drop like a true fucking monolith from the skies.
  • BECK

    An inspired and intuitive navigation of the drone continuum, MONOLITHIC UNDERTOW maps the heavy underground with a compass firmly set to new and enlightening psychedelic truths
  • John Robb

    Every now and then a book comes out that redefines a form, creates the narrative and is a startling jolt to the culture fabric . . . [MONOLITHIC UNDERTOW] is thrilling, inspiring, informative and makes you jump all over the internet looking for the soundtrack. The book is a game changer and you will never listen to music in the same way again
  • Quietus
    Sword is a deeply knowledgeable and perceptive advocate for a vast range of often esoteric, sometimes challenging, always extraordinary music

    Monolithic Undertow searches for our relationship to drone music: an epic playlist that begins in the womb, then criss-crosses an exhaustive thread across the lo-fi Verdantic cassettes of Alice Coltrne, the 'true British blues' of Black Sabbath, infrasonic weaponry and the gritty doom-clouds of The Velvet Underground
    Addictive . . . Sword's is an impressively global ear
  • BUZZ
    Verbose and effusive when assessing recordings, Monolithic Undertow's scope is large enough that any reader will likely discover something