Review Summary: Hallucinatory, droney goodness...
Newcastle’s finest stoners Bong return with their brand of otherworldly drone with their fourth full length “Mana-Yood-Sushai” and hell are you in for a journey through the outer limits of transcendence.
Bong have not produced an album here, but a religious experience. Using a vast array of mystical instruments I can’t quite put my finger on, they produce a soundscape that sees the listener plunge into sonic depths of psychedelic immersion. They attain the otherworldly vibe by their excellent use of echoey sitars (an instrument I did pick up on) which adds a valuable layer to the constant drone and lazy drums. The drums are not only used for their traditional role (keeping a beat in case you didn't know) but add to the atmosphere, especially when using irregular crash symbols at the beginning of the aptly named “Dreams of Mana-Yood-Sushai”. This track is repetitive repeating the same bassed out riff and dreamy sitar and is the stimulus that puts you in a relaxing and meditative state of mind. The soundscape produced is intertwined with the Buddhist like chants of “Mana-Yood-Sushai” (the fictional god this album is based on) which gives it that mystical edge and a feeling of worship and prayer.
“Trees, Grass and Stones” has a lot more variation than the cycle like nature of the previous track, utilizing different guitar tones and a plucky bass line to change its feel ever so slightly and keeping the constant drone of its predecessor. This keeps the music more interesting and curves away from the monotonous and boring nature it could have become. The bongo drums used a little after the start of the track gives a tribal feeling to an album that is as much as a prayer as reciting the vicars words in a church, but don’t worry atheists, Mana-Yood Sushai ain’t real. Bong’s fantastic use of the flute a little after the middle adds another heavenly layer that contributes to the rising crescendo of the track. In both tracks, this crescendo is prevalent but never peaks, which works in its favor as a sudden harsh noise would ruin the trance of the whole album, which, actually made me space out a couple of times. The album artwork fits the music perfectly, as the induced comatose this music aims to cast on you makes you visualize the vast snowy mountains on the cover, and gives you a sense of inner peace.
Overall this album is the closest to getting high without weed, and the trance like state it can put on you is an ode to how powerful the music is. The hallucinatory feeling the album can give you makes this opus an ethereal triumph and a close contender for the stoners’ Holy Grail.