Are you in the market for gut-wrenching doom that pushes boundaries and sounds fantastic? Look no further, Bong-Ra‘s Meditations is here to sate your thirst for carnage.

Release date: August 5, 2022 | Tartarus Records | Website | Bandcamp | Youtube

At the time of writing, I’m currently being crushed by the second track on the album for the umpteenth time, languishing in the depraved bassline that introduces it. As you’ll find in the premiere we did of “Wisdom” back in July, I fucking loved it then, as much as I do now. Now, enjoyed along with the other three delightful tracks on the record, one can firmly state that Bong-Ra‘s return is very much welcome and enjoyable. Sure, you might need to be in a particular mood for this onslaught of doom, jazz, and electronica, yet I think many metalheads and purveyors of the experimental arts will find safe harbour in Meditations.

With my own musical background straddling electronica of all walks, I love the incredible transition Bong-Ra has made jumping from breakcore to what could only be described as hybrid doom, and despite downtuning everything possible, he is still able to compose tracks that harken back to his twenty-plus years of making electronic music. The atmosphere in particular is something that blew me away, his experience with synthesizers helping to create a feeling of being inside a soundtrack that has gone horribly wrong.

As it says on the cover, this isn’t a doom record that’ll get you moving particularly much. I’d thoroughly recommend big speakers or headphones to enjoy the four tracks with, as there are plenty of complex layers to this record. Each track is quite long and you really fall into their unique soundscapes. I will certainly admit to many a time wondering if the track had changed, as the composition is so adept at changing structure so quickly, and decisively. New instrumentation takes the lead without warning, only to be replaced by harrowing, droney chants that imbue the listener with trepidation, before flitting in another direction altogether.

“Courage” is an extremely strong opening track, and could easily be the score to a really nasty David Lynch or A24 film scene in which something is going horribly wrong. It is less heavy than some of the following tracks, but makes up for that with a stunning atmosphere that exudes horror. The terrifying saxophone that bullies its way into the track in the latter half is amazing, the free-jazz squeals coming from it amplifying the wild and scattered atmosphere of the track.

The tracks feel like they are made up of multiple moments, almost like trains of thought. Interjecting the peace are chaotic blasts, one of my favourite of these in the final track, “Temperance”. Beginning with a slow stumble, the track suddenly falls down the rabbit hole with reverb-soaked saxophone and frenetic drums that teeter on the edge of breakcore. The added layers of effects make this an extremely exciting track to gorge your ears on. The excellent production and spacing of instruments really helps make this auditory experience what it is, with the layers spaced clearly apart, yet all piling into the mixing pot perfectly in the middle. Yet again, I applaud Bong-Ra for his bold endeavour and am really glad to see it pay off so well. Meditations is not for the faint-hearted, but I’m certain you’ll find solace in its havoc.

Pete Overell

Pete Overell

“Talent has always been the sexiest thing to me."

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