Drone. It’s a strange old form of Metal, and something of an acquired taste – for example the high priests of drone that are Sunn o))). A form of Metal that has a somewhat monotonous theme to it, with tracks and albums so long that they appear to made time turn to a standstill; or even go backwards in some cases. Such is the mesmeric sounds of such bands. They no nothing of the concept of track listings, preferring to disorientate and envelop the listener in a sonic blur.
Bong, are such a band. To those not in the know, they come from Newcastle in the British Isles and have been around since 2005. They have released an extensive catalogue of live albums, split EP’s, and four full length studio albums. “Mana-Yood-Sushai” being their latest album.
The album consists solely of two tracks, that are beyond 20 minutes each. I have had their album for several days so far, and have been listening to it while commuting to work. It makes for a bit of a strange soundtrack while cycling, and puts me into a somewhat mesmeric state – just like that old maxim seen on medicine and pill bottles telling the user that it’s best not to take while driving or operating heavy machinery. A far better environment to appreciate this album is to sit there, switch your phone off and just blot the entire world out – even better if you were, ahem, ‘under the influence’ of your favourite poison.
The opening track (inspired by Lord Dunsany’s “The Gods of Pegana”) ‘Dreams of Mana-Yood-Sushai’ ebbs slowly from the speakers in a manner that feels as if it has sneaked out of there, catching the listener completely unaware. Riffs slowly build, in an extremely slow manner that is the aural equivalent of watching trees and mountains grow – such is the extreme slow pace of the music. A constant drone of feedback punctuated by sitar flourishes while a mantra of “Mana Yood Sushai” pours forth from the speakers; choosing to drown the listener in a manner akin to being stuck in a tar pit while you struggle in extremely slow motion, that feels like millions of years have passed by before the track ends and you have long since drowned.
‘Trees, Grass, and Stones’ continues in a more contemplative manner, but sticking to the same plan as before; choosing to bend, corrupt, and mess with the fabric of time with a sense of super slow motion majesty. A steady paced drum beat echoes forth and underpins the track, with shimmers of guitar drone, feedback, and aitar making an appearance once more. The track has a bit more pace to it than the previous one, but still holds the listener in a similar hypnotic mantra.
I can imagine that this band is extremely potent in the live setting, their particular brand of super slow drone is probably that lethal I can imagine the lower frequencies having a bloody good go at trying to void your bowels and re-arrange your internal organs in a manner similar to Sunn o))). The album can split opinion, others may feel it’s self indulgent pretentious twaddle while others who partake in ‘substance abuse’ will find it a perfectly fitting accompaniment (if you catch my drift), As far as drone goes, it hardly re-invents the wheel and if I was forced to choose I would probably pick the more lysergic fuelled Hawkind albums, Monster Magnet‘s début “25…Ta”‘, or perhaps Kyuss albums first. However, the album does an excellent job of warping and bending the brain into hypnotic submission – for better or worse.
As clichéd as it sounds – turn on, tune in, and drop out indeed.