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. Monolithic Undertow is the definitive text to explore the music of drone and its related genres. Exhaustively researched this tome will not leave music fans interested in drone, doom, metal, and folk music unsatisfied.
"This is a book that will have you arguing, at least mentally, with its author, which I think is a very great thing. For example, I find it hard to believe that Sword (or anybody, for that matter) thinks that “Diamanda Galas has one of the world’s great voices,” though I cheered when I read his opinion that Lee Ranaldo is “one of the most innovative guitarists of all time.” Equally I’m right there with him in his championing of the Pretty Things’ 1968 album S.F. Sorrow, and I do wish I found Sunn 0))) even half as interesting as Sword does, but he didn’t convince me. I did come to realize, however, that their 2009 album Monoliths & Dimensions was surely an inspiration for this book’s title. I was also amused (and in agreement with) Sword’s dismissal of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music (1975) as “karaoke Cale” (as in John, not the leafy green), and he makes a good case that Nico, with her harmonium and that voice, was the one who really took the drone forward from the Velvet Underground." — Los Angeles Review of Books
"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." —DAVID KEENAN
"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."—John Robb, LOUDER THAN WAR
"Sword is a deeply knowledgeable and perceptive advocate for a vast range of often esoteric, sometimes challenging, always extraordinary music."—Quietus