Bong: We Were, We Are, We Will Have Been

Mantric magic from Newcastle drone wizards

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The fifth album from Newcastle drone lords Bong has a title that hints at the future, likely self-inflicted, demise of our species, an occurrence that at the snail’s pace in which we perceive reality, we are wont to forget. The totality of human endeavour has occurred within a mere blink of the cosmic eye, yet we stride the Earth, confident of our place at the top.

Bong intend to remind us of our fragility, with an album comprised of two 20-minute rituals designed to warp our perception of the space/time continuum. Given that 2014’s Stoner Rock contained two tracks of over 30 minutes each in length, this record isn’t hanging around. Given another aeon, they’ll be competing with Napalm Death in the brevity stakes.

In much the same way that meditative doom phenomenon Yob bring an edge of Eastern mysticism to their transcendental soundscapes, so too do Bong offer spiritual release, yet it is with a rich, earthen sense of ritualism that they work their magic.

Stood with feet planted firmly on the ground, they gaze up at the cosmos and wonder what else might be. Guitar reverberates ad infinitum, minor tonal shifts eventually leading to lackadaisical drums, as vocalist Dave Terry intones solemn profundities, shimmering effects echoing into eternity in the background.

Second track Find Your Own Gods is a little more direct, urging the listener to eschew false idols in search of deeper-seated natural truths, before wandering uncaring down mellifluously overgrown paths. In urging humanity to search for deeper meaning, Bong contribute to a rich tradition of extreme music’s lamentations at mankind’s disconnection from nature. The cover art, a piece by famed pre-impressionist JMW Turner, depicts green fields with a nascent London skyline in the background, a grim portent of the modern urban sprawl to come.

This is not a record to be absent-mindedly played whilst diving on and off the tube at rush hour, but one instead for those rare opportunities for peace, in which we can shrug off the distractions of the everyday and connect with a repressed mind-state, a portal to forgotten lands, waiting for just such a key to unlock it./o:p