I use “drone metal” as a loose label for the music of various groups such as SunnO))), Earth and Sleep, involved in making sound at the limits of heavy metal while also drawing on classical and jazz avant-garde traditions, and world sacred musics. These musicians make frequent use of various religious, mystical or occult signs, sounds, and practices in their music, as well as drawing on spiritual themes in music. I suggest that these recordings are not only art about mysticism, but can be understood as mystical texts in themselves. I invoke the work of Michel de Certeau on mysticism, in which he locates “mystics” in “manners of speaking”: ways of using language against itself in order to gesture towards the unsayable. I outline how, in recordings, artwork, surrounding discussions, performance and listening rituals, similar features and practices can be discerned in drone metal texts as the codes of music are similarly strained in attempts at transcendence. Given that Certeau historically situates mystics at a time of epistemological transition from the authority of scripture to a modernist hermeneutics, I offer some speculation on the implications of hearing these contemporary drone metal mystical texts as noise in a contemporary transition to an economy of pure information signal.
|Keywords:||Drone Metal, Certeau, Mysticism|
George Brown College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada