Bong - Mana-Yood-Sushai (CD Ritual Productions)
Two long slabs of huge monstrous psychedelic sludge from Bong.
Dreams Of Mana-Yood-Sushai opens up with a slow mystical feel with some sitar accompanying the slow doom/stoner guitar work. Bong seem in no rush to move things on and for five minutes let this slowly work its way into your system until some low deep vocals start intoning the mantra implied by the title. This seems to signal a slight increase in intensity as the riff takes a more edgy feel with some dissonance added here and there followed by more depth being added by the drums hitting a low tom every so often. The whole piece continues to build getting very subtlety heavier until it reaches where it wants to be and then slowly drifts along with a huge amount of tension there. You can feel it wanting to burst out but itís all kept in check by adding some feedback/lead guitar work which is left low enough in the mix not to interfere with the general feel that has been created but still loud enough to add a little bit extra dynamically. Dreams Of Mana-Yood-Sushai has achieved what it set out to and lets itself work its way to the end of the piece changing little with the exception of bringing the intensity down slightly until we have almost gone full circle.
The second piece Trees, Grass And Stones is a slightly more introspective sounding piece (even though itís pace seems faster than Mana) with a large amount a picked notes on the guitar and a driving rhythm added by the bass and drums. The sitar is still there adding shrill chords here and there and the whole piece has a quite propelling nature to it, always moving forwards. Thereís some lovely guitar work on this just over half way through putting you in mind of someone like early Marble Sheep or Acid Mothers Temple in a more mellow mood. The piece uses this guitar work as itís backdrop to see it through to the end.
A pretty successful album for Bong. Itís hard to know where to place Bong. Iíve seen a lot of comparisons to the likes of Sunn0))) and Earth and Sleep but I think they have a much more 70s feel about them and thatís why Iíd rather compare them to early Marble Sheep. But wherever you want to place or categorise them there is no getting away from the fact that this is a really good album. Itís one that requires youíre attention itís not background music dispite the length and slow evolution of the pieces and itíd be interesting to see how they come across live. DB