I think Bong are Buddhists. I think they like Hawkwind and I think they also like Black Sabbath, they’re provably drug-addled fiends, but their glacial pace completely removes heavy metal’s implied threat. They’re clearly Buddhists, with that religion’s innate paradoxical pessimism and optimism; to listen to Bong is to accept that suffering is a part of life, and that letting go is the only path to enlightenment. Chasing Bong is like catching smoke, understanding under deep concentration will slip through your fingers like smoke. You can’t desire understanding, because desire itself is the enemy, you discover the band in that moment of abandonment, of losing oneself in between the vinyl grooves, into their singular ten-year song as phased sonic flamethrowers belch white hot heaviness, and delicate chords cut like searchlight beams though closed blinds and percussion bombs explode somewhere in the distance. Drop out of life with Bong in hand.
Deep into some meditative late night stereo session, and Bong came up, and my companion asked “What kind of music are Bong?” and I couldn’t really answer. They have none of the oppressive dread of Sunn O))), they actively mocked the tag slapped on them by unimaginative and overeager critics with Stoner Rock, truthfully their name is more onomatopoeic than could be the case, referring not to a marijuana smoking aid but to a literal bell sound, presumably the one at the start of Black Sabbath (“the album or the track?” both, ya motherfuckers”). In intoning meditative bell, rung by a self-mummifying monk in his tiny darkened oubliette at the edge of the vast great Unknown, signifying that we are all still alive.
Proponents of Ego-Death, either through Near Death Experience or brain injury, independently describe the vastness. The demise of fixation on the self leads, it is reported, to elation, as all things make sense as they are all in service to the vastness. Bong are the band that have the closest to capturing the vastness without falling over into emptiness. Their power and delicacy, their tunefulness and their atonal Ohm, all are tools of the vastness, the apparent musical aimlessness is the goal, you cannot desire for enlightenment because desire itself is the main goal separating us all from reaching something higher. Drop out of life with Bong in hand. Follow the riff to the smoke filled land. Proceed the Shahi-ian, Egodeath.
Oh my god, it’s full of stars.
Written under duress by Steven.