Beyond Ancient Space

One thing I’ve always enjoyed about stoner bands are the unapologetically straightforward band names. Bongzilla, King Bong, Space Bong, Belzebong, Dopefight, Dopethrone, Weedeater… Frankly, I’m surprised no one thought to use just plain old Bong before these guys started up in 2005. It’s easy to think sing this kind of name is too obvious, or cliché, but there’s something admirable about embracing your influences, culture and fans. Chances are that if you think the above names are lazy or stupid, instead of awesomely over-the-top, you probably aren’t the intended audience. Bong’s music is as unapologetic as their name and they most certainly have an intended audience.

Bong’s forte is the long form doom/drone jam. Massive, super dense walls of fuzz layered with sitar and shaahi baja, repetitive riffing and gently shifting textures. It’s a style that lends itself particularly well to improvisation, which seems apparent in the number of live records they’re released. Despite having over 20 releases under their belts, Beyond Ancient Space is only their third full length effort, clocking three tracks in close to 80 minutes, with each track surpassing the 25 minute mark.

Compared to Bethmoora and their self titled, Beyond Ancient Space is less riff oriented and more ambient, mostly as a result of the blown out production. The guitar and bass take on a Hypnotoad like morphing buzz on the first two-thirds of the album, “Onward to Perdondaris” and “Across the Time-stream”, as the Indian instrumentation drip notes from above. The drums hold a slow, steady, rhythmic plod and carry the arc of the songs, making minor and steady adjustments to speed. “In the Shadow of the Towers” is sprawling, riff centric droner akin to early SUNN0))) or Boris.

This could do with some better production, the drums especially could use some beefing up to give the swings more heft, but like many drone albums, Beyond Ancient Space is either tedious as shit or a sonic blast into another dimension, depending on your mood. There are few bands that do it better than Bong though, and these three excursions into the outer realms of drone are as good as they get.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chuck Kucher
April 19th, 2012


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