Third Man Books Releases ‘Monolithic Undertow: In Search of Sonic Oblivion’

Third Man Books Releases Monolithic Undertow: In Search of Sonic Oblivion

Author Harry Sword’s tome of drone explores the history of drone music from the womb, literally, to modern musicians Alice Coltrane, La Monte Young, Velvet Underground, Sleep, Sunn O))) and more.

“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.” – Louder Than War

Out now from Third Man BooksMonolithic 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 verbalized 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…

Monolithic Undertow: In Search of Sonic Oblivion is out now and is available for purchase here.  The North American edition of the book features an exclusive cover and a new foreword by author Harry Sword.

Distributed Exclusively in North America by Consortium Books/Ingram Content Group.

Third Man Books | 05.17.2022 | 341 Pages Paperback | $19.95 | ISBN: 9781737382935 | 6”x 8” | B/W Photos |  Music History

Harry Sword is a Cambridge-based writer. He is a contributor to The QuietusViceRecord CollectorMunchies and The Guardian. Monolithic Undertow is his first book.

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Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Third Man Books is dedicated to publishing the best in poetry, fiction, speculative fiction, SF/F, and non-fiction with the same diversity, craftsmanship, and aestheticism that are the hallmarks of their partner company, Third Man Records.

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