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2019-01-30

BONG-RA - Antediluvian

Ok, strictly speaking this one is a 2018 release, since the digital version has been out since October. I had it on my Bandcamp wishlist but never really got around to really listening to it with full attention. Sometimes it needs a thing like a limited individual physical version to lure me. And a nice CD version with a stamped cover artwork this is, reminscent of some of Michael Gira's live album works for Swans

This however is Jason Köhnen with his project Bong-Ra, which - as I unknowingly witnessed before the last Dillinger Escape Plan show in Hamburg - until 2017 was a one-man-rave/noise-and-breakbeat-electro project.






BONG-RA - Antediluvian (Limited Edition Custom CD) (2019)

At last year's Roadburn Festival Bong-Ra presented itself as something completely different than before, combining aspects of various of Köhnen's other creative ventures.

Most obviously the band is now a duet, it basically is the Köhnen Pandi Duo, but this time they are not playing doom jazz with Köhnen on electronics and samples and Balazs Pandi on drums, but something much more pummeling and ferocious, where Köhnen stills brings in the knobs and keys, but most prominently plays a low droning super distorted bass guitar.

This is doom. And ironically the first comparison that comes to mind is non other than the meditative hypnotic drone doom of the almost-namesakes Bong.

It's actually a pretty complete description to say that Bong-Ra sounds like a direct instrumental crossbreed of Bong at their meanest with probably still my favorite Köhnen project after the discontinuation of The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation aka The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, which is The Thing With Five Eyes.

Bong-Ra live at Roadburn 2018
Where Bong are cited, Zaum are usually not far away. That goes especially in this case, on the one hand because of the duo line-up without a lead guitar, on the other for the whole transcendent, dreamlike vibe unfolding on "Antediluvian".

Over a mount of heaviest matter doom there's a constant flow of all kinds of atmospheric sampled sounds from the realms of arabic music, ambient soundscapes, world music, nasty free jazz saxophone and smooth piano.

All in all the concept and execution of the new Bong-Ra sound are a very distinct and complete package, which should bring joy to many fans of sheer doom intensity and escapist experimentalism.


The only point of criticism is that "Antediluvian" ends too soon after four tracks with a total playing time of not even 34 minutes, which makes it one of those releases that can't really decide if its still an EP or already a proper album. Give me another track of 10+ minutes like the opener "Kheper [Pharoah's Serpent]" and this would be a perfectly rounded experience.

And then there's of course the lingering question whether my or any of the other ninety-nine hand-crafted CD editions will ever be opened. For now I don't have the heart to do so - and if I will someday, I'll be careful only to cut the thread, but not to break the wax seal.


So, do I even open this or not? Fuck, man.

Luckily you can spot that there's indeed a compact disc inside, but thinking about it Jason Köhnen could have totally made this a scam by just putting a piece of cardboard inside. Because most likely all buyers will stick to the Bandcamp download and would have never realized it, haha.


Remains only the other big question, why a man who evidentily has no problem to launch new musical projects for new concepts, has published "Antediluvian" under a moniker which formerly stood for such a radically different sound.

I guess he just thought that Bong-Ra is a way too cool name to be abandoned. Well, I'm not even a stoner and I would totally agree.





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