Bong-Ra - Antediluvian

05 Jul 2021 - Thorsten

Avantgarde Doom Break-Core Free-Jazz | Tartarus Records | Release date: 25 Jun 2021

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”Madness?!? No – this is Bong-Ra!!!” With a background in Doom-Metal (he was a founding member of Dutch Doom-institution Celestial Season) and harsh Breakcore (alongside acts like Venetian Snares or DJ Scud) Jason Köhnen tries to combine both with a love for Free Jazz. Now, his only full-length album sees a repress by Tartarus Records and that is reason enough for us to review this awesome record.

Antediluvian means “before the flood” and in some ways that is a perfect description for this record for it breaks down over one’s head like a flood crashes over the surfer who tries to ride through the barrel around him. And in some ways, Köhnen gives us opportunities to ride through his record just like the surfer – one is surrounded and can hardly escape but there are these glimpses of light and hope. Just like Bruce Lee said “Water can flow or it can crash.” This might show that he also has deep experience in Jazz Noir bands like The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble or The Mount Fuji Doomjazz Corporation in which jazz is experienced through gloom and deceleration. Of course, when imagining the triangle between Jazz Noir (or Doomjazz), Breakcore and Doom-Metal, the question automatically arises whether <i<Antediluvian</i> can be categorized at all? Answer: Yes and No. Yes, because every record can be categorized. No, because it makes no sense to force a label onto it. Let’s just go with the flow.

The record starts with ”Kheper – Pharaoh’s Serpent” and some ethereal female vocals spread across some vast slightly noisy soundscapes, onto which then some seemingly improvised horns are added. When the first mighty industrial Breakcore sounds are added it’s like an explosion of noise with all the sounds meandering into infinity and thus nearly stumbling over each other. When the Free Jazz horns try to re-gain control of the tracks it’s like there is a clash of titans going on: the high-pitched horns versus the low-rumbling Breakcore parts. And all of that with some very slow but heavy-hit drumming to accompany it. And then something happens after roughly half the track: the horns start playing some soothing, gentle tunes and even “win the fight”. The whole track starts to calm down (despite some strewn-in impro-horns) and finally the drums come out victorious because they are able to set the tone and pace with the rest following.

It is hard to find musical parallels or similar artists as the harsh electronics sometimes make it near-impossible. However, one cannot but compare this record to music by Sumac, Convulsif, Aphex Twin on the one, and Coltrane, Davis and Convulsif on the other hand. Yes, I mentioned the Swiss collective twice – because they work perfectly as some kind of hinge upon which it all rests. Nevertheless, there are moments on Antediluvian when there are some small additions to the soundscape which in return make it impossible to see any parallel. For example in the second track ”Hidden Chambers” one suddenly finds some well-hidden piano parts that really give the track some positive attitude, one might think of it s something beautiful hidden beneath all that lardy grime. And then the simple Jazz-drumming offers a kind of breath right at the middle of the track it’s simply gorgeous.

The record always offers connections to Jason’s other creative outlets and that makes it so worthwhile listening to for a few more rounds. Everything he ever did seems to flow together in this record, making it unique in a way. A repress definitely worth every ounce of attention it is given. If you have open ears and like music that challenges you – this is your go-to-record for the next couple of weeks.