The story goes that six years ago, following a performance at the Øya Festival in Oslo, Norway, drone titans, Sunn O))), recorded three improvised pieces of music with folk metal band, Ulver. Once nighttime gave way to daylight, the basest version of their collaborative effort was complete. After a few years of additional recording, adding instrumentation and post-production overseen by members of both groups, their three very ambient movements, all of which range in intensity, were finally released this year as Terrestrials.

In stark contrast to the ultra-dark sonic tar that Sunn O))) normally mold through “maximum volume,” most of which sounds very damning in both tone and enormity, Terrestrials, while spacious and eerie at times, seems to relish in the glory of sound. As cliché a title as “Let There Be Light” certainly is, the music very much feels like dawn’s rising, a significant realization of sound as the volume heightens, percussive elements announcing this Bitches Brew caliber crescendo with blaring brass and splash cymbals. The overall sound is interestingly shaky, sort of noncommittal in its strength as if reluctant to resolve itself quickly. Layers reveal gentle additions of piano strokes and deep bass tones, quivering strings and symphonic depth.

More akin to the nature of Sunn O))) is the solitude and captivating dread of “Western Horn,” a breathy wheeze stretched throughout the piece as Greg Anderson’s bass tone pulses and droning elements gather as if huddled. You get the sense of space and distance, but it’s suffocating and crowded, enhancing the stress at the center of the composition.

“Eternal Return” is the album’s most composed offering, a descriptor assignation somewhere between “chamber lounge” or “orchestral folk.” The continued utilization of aimless drones with melodic violin accents craft some semblance of structure, which is confirmed by the fact that this piece of music is palindromic: it’s beginning played backwards in its second half. Midway, through the more improvised elements are reduced and followed by a synthesizer and Ulver’s Kristoffer Rygg, who introduces a vocal component to the music. Whatever’s left winds down, violins left to whine and buzz as the final seconds of Terrestrials elapse, a luminous collection of music meant to enjoy as intensely as it’d been conceived.