2018Sannhet w/ Self Defense Family, Planning For Burial
JuneDoors 8pm, Show 9pm - $12adv / $14
Though Sannhet meditate on life’s imperfect escapes, So Numb’s nine songs showcase the band facing life’s pain and joy with their eyes wide open. The collection’s emotional landscape is one of existential dread, melancholy, and loss - ammunition for escapists. Despite these existential conundrums, So Numb has an uplifting, euphoric feel.
The collection was recorded and produced by Peter Katis, who’s known for his work with Mercury Rev, Interpol, the National, and Oneida among others. Working with Katis, the production illuminates a more open sound for the band. While Sannhet’s second album, 2015’s Revisionist, was bigger and harsher than their 2013 debut, Known Flood, they offer a more wistful, melodic approach here.
The first track, “Indigo Illusion,” opens with Christopher Todd’s eviscerating, but anchoring drums locked in with AJ Annunziata’s driving bass and John Refano’s clamoring, unexpectedly coaxing guitar melodies—the song, a muscular anthem that mixes feedback and space, ends up sounding like a million crystals shattering in a dark room. Alternately, the heavier, more solemn and cavernous “Fernbeds” finds added pathos from guest guitar leads by one-man shoegaze-metal artist, Planning for Burial’s Thom Wasluck.
As on past Sannhet albums, the song titles are evocative (“Sapphire,” the churning “Sleep Well,” “Fernbeds,” “Way Out”), but not prescriptive. By the time you’ve gotten to the drifting, airy “Salts,” it’s clear Sannhet has become a more patient, painterly band. The collection ends with the massive “Sleep Well” followed by the eerie, ambient “Wind Up.” Those two songs offer a good example of what the band does well: moving between extremes to create a dynamic that feels both climactic and anticipatory, dramatic and comfortably calm.
Sannhet have always been hard to classify. Since 2010, the Brooklyn trio’s played instrumental music that’s heavy and light, cinematic and intimate, dense but minimal. You could call them “post” something, “experimental metal,” or “math rock,” but none of that’s quite right and the band has thrown another wrinkle into the mix with So Numb. While they don’t write lyrics, they do write subtexts. They pen love letters, extended epistles, and suicide notes, all without words. With So Numb, Sannhet create a new world out of very few ingredients.
The group was founded and originally performed under the name End of a Year, taken from a song by Embrace, a short-lived collaboration between Ian MacKaye and his brother Alec MacKaye. The name suited the band's music, which resembled the approach of the more adventurous Dischord bands, and in 2003 End of a Year made their public debut with a show at State University of New York Albany; they cut a lo-fi demo of their songs that they gave away at the performance, and a more polished demo, titled Warm, appeared a few months later. In 2004, End of a Year released their first album, Disappear Here, through Oneohfive Records; in 2005, they issued the first of many singles, in this case a split 7" with the band Three Fifteen, and it was one of the group's 45s that caught the attention of Revelation Records, who struck a deal with End of a Year to release their second album, 2006's Sincerely. In 2010, End of a Year hooked up with the independent punk label Deathwish Inc., and issued the album You Are Beneath Me.
Not long after the album was released, Kindlon decided the band needed a new name; he compared the shift in monikers to Will Oldham changing the name of Palace Brothers to Palace Music and later Bonnie "Prince" Billy, reflecting the group's growing musical spectrum, and the 2011 single "I Heard Crime Gets You Off" was released under the handle End of a Year Self Defense Family. A few stray releases used Self Defense as the group's name before 2014 saw the release of Try Me by Self Defense Family, a concept album dealing in part with the ups and downs of adult film actress and entertainer Jeanne Fine (aka Angelique Bernstein), who is featured in interviews on the album conducted by Kindlon. For 2015's Heaven Is Earth, Self Defense Family began exploring new sounds by recording the tracks to their album at four different studios where they had never worked before. ~ Mark Deming
The live side of the Planning For Burial coin has a split personality where the audience is never sure what they are going to get; the loud version is a droning and noise-y wall of sound while the quiet version is soft and pretty. Both aspects though are exercises in wondrous depression.