Omnia Convivia Crastina in the year-end critics' polls at A Closer Look (US), December 2012
Number 19 in the Top 20 chart of the best albums of the year
"Tonesucker was consistently ranked among our staffers as one of our favorite releases of the year, and the heady wave of buzz has been well deserved, indeed. While much noise music can often come across cold and clinical, Omnia Convivia Crastina is absolutely bursting with robust and colorful life. There’s no randomness to this melee; everything is as utterly composed and perfectly interwoven as a fine photograph, with each rattle and each drone falling jigsaw-like into perfect and precise anointed place. Noise music doesn’t have to be arbitrary chaos; sometimes it can be as moving and stirring as the simplest of gorgeous melodies. In 2012, Tonesucker’s unique take on the genre carries the day." ZACHARY CORSA
Top 10 drone albums of the year
"The title of Garret Keizer’s last book defines noise as “the unwanted sound of everything we want”. Toss all the colors of the spectrum together, and one gets white; toss all the sounds together, and one gets Tonesucker. The band’s latest album is a group expression of controlled bombast, one that often sounds like a hardware store being tipped into a cement mixer. But as long as the listener controls the volume, noise is not noise; this album is a secret weapon, ready to obliterate every unwanted sound in its path." RICHARD ALLEN RIC
Review of Omnia Convivia Crastina in A Closer Look (US), April 2012
The buzz began with Wire Tapper 28 and the sonic mulch of Tonesucker’s “cosmic avian variation”, which sounded somewhat like a gravel field being mowed next to an active propeller. The track was a teaser mix of three longer selections on Omnia Convivia Crastina, which is easily one of the year’s standout releases in the drone arena.
“Drones, pulses and noises” is the label’s description, which is a great start. This album, Tonesucker’s sixth, is a triptych of live performances, thick with feedback, buzz and whirr, packed with pattern but astonishingly free of repetition. It’s possible the performers didn’t even know what it would sound like until they played it, and that they’ll never be able to replicate it in any reliable fashion. Nor, it seems, would they wish to do so; during the launch party, they put the recording on a USB stick, shoved it in a bottle and sent it into the North Sea. Some lonely beachcomber is going to get the surprise of a lifetime.
"Is it noise? Most people would say so, but it’s noise with flow and beauty, elegance and grace. Unlike other music of its kind, Omnia Convivia Crastina coheres to internal mechanisms that provide each long piece – and the album as a whole – with substance and form. Nothing seems random, even though it must be so; no startling bursts knock the listener from his chair. At times, it’s even lulling, due to the wavy drones passing behind the fuzz and squeal.
"The industrialized revolution brought these sounds into the public consciousness, and for most of history they have seemed unwanted. This noise is tamed, sculpted, shaped and made desirable: the potentially ugly made potentially beautiful, even glorious, a wash of mechanized sounds with aquatic timbres, imitations of telephones and emergency vehicles, bells and wires and factories forming an unlikely harmonious choir. Yet none of this would be possible without the invitation of an odd party, one that some in the noise field would even consider an enemy: silence. In order to succeed, noise must work in opposition to, not in ignorance of silence. It does so here, especially on “Worm”, threading its way from deserted sonic spaces to the very center of the maze. The mediating party – volume – darts back and forth between the two, negotiating a truce, but never a peace. But peace is not what we want – not here, not now. We want controlled chaos, and danger, and rustling in the woods, which is exactly what this brilliant album provides." RICHARD ALLENo
tReview of Slaughterhouse in Diskant (UK)
How many albums do you know of that were recorded in an abattoir? The noise/drone duo Terry Burrows and John Bowers answer that question under the name of Tonesucker, whose 2006 album ‘Slaughterhouse’ captures the intense claustrophobia of a filthy parade through an abattoir. The album opens with a monolithic guitar chord repeated every twenty seconds, the track’s title ‘Hook’ ominously punning on the portent of the horror that the listener / cow awaits. As the song develops there are some wonderfully weird guitar crackles that begin to burn then gently fizz out – just a sample of the great tones and effects the two guitarists Bowers and Burrows achieve in this album. One of the most nerve-wracking songs imaginable is ‘Crush’: a glacier-slow raising of pitch and tension, which achieved (I would guess) by gradually moving a slide up the guitar’s neck. On ‘Slice’ the duo treat us to hypnotic wavelength vibrations – that underlying hum synonymous with Earth and Sunn O))). It’s amazing to think ‘Slaughterhouse’ was recorded with just guitars (plus pedals and amps) – the array of sounds squeezed out of a couple of the instruments is immense. It’s an incredibly intense listen packed full of triumphant droning and delicious noise. According to Terry the final product of ‘Slaughterhouse’ insisted on “tortuous amounts of audio sculpting” – all worthwhile in a particularly effective four songs. Listening to this album makes you wish there was a drummer somewhere in the mix, and lo, Tonesucker have done the right thing. Drummer Steven Elsey joined earlier this year, and the band will surely benefit from this addition. Pascal Ansell.
Live Review in Music Works (US)
4 Kingston, Ontario. October
By Kristi Allik and Julie Fiala
This year's instalment of Tone Deaf, curated by artist Matt Rogalsky for the Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre, had an eclectic line-up of practitioners, including performance artists as sound artists, video-sound investigators, guitarists as noisemakers, electro-digital gurus, and other cross-genre performers...... Mike Cassells, composer, jazz musician, improviser, and member of Tonesucker, a live electronic ensemble from the United Kingdom, played a session of long-distance musical improvisation connected in real time via the Internet. This improvisatory piece started quietly, with ambient sounds and quiet drones, followed by an abrupt introduction of atonal, rhythmic, and penetrating drones. Cassell's sonorities provided a tonal foreground to the noise-like sounds of Tonesucker's music. This gradually evolved into a more chaotic, dense climax, gradually becoming more pitched and tonal. Real-time musical performance and collaboration over the Internet is certainly challenging, due to issues such as the transmission delay time, the lack of visual contact, and the limited bandwidth. This performance provided by Cassells and Tonesucker, however, gives a taste of the possibilities. Read full review Hear the Tonesucker/Mike Cassells performance hereMike Cassells' home page [Photograph courtesy of Matt Rogalsky.]