Harry Sword

Sword starts with the premise that 'the drone' and primal ritual underlies the foundation of what evolved into music as we know it. That is a pretty safe bet. He then goes on to expand upon the reference back to these primal sources - from which he suggests, evolved music in the modern [mainly Western] cultural sense. Again a plausible premise. He moves through recent history and genres. Some of the examples he cites support his thesis, some do not, but are interesting digressions nonetheless. For example the peerless Sunn O))) are unambiguous primal drone; jazz much less so, except where it crosses over (for example the underpinning buddhist chant of Alice Coltrane). The free jazz of John Coltrane, Ornette Colman et al that Sword expounds upon at length, are arguably less in the drone area, except perhaps in the mesmerising quality of their interwoven sonic textures.

The book sags a little in the middle wandering off into the irrelevance of grunge, post punk, rave and so on, but picks back up at the end delving into the wierdness of Ghost Box Records who hark back to an imagined recent past that defines what has been termed 'Hauntology' which does tie to the book's foundations: a seeking of answers to the unanswerable through the reference of sound to environment and the past.

Sword has missed reference to Zoviet France who support his thesis far more relevantly (than say Iggy and the Stooges). So too, the German chantology of Klause Wiese and Mattias Grassow (though Sword does cover Popol Vuh in that area).

Monolithic Undertow is clearly a journalist's work. It is a stitching together of focus pieces. Most of the time that works, but where it does not it undermines the credibility of a very absorbing read. That said... my final word, a thank you for the surfacing of Hauntology as a genre and the rich mine that is Ghost Box Records.