Northumbria – Northumbria

The Toronto based Northumbria specialise is cloying drone atmospheres culled from only the hugely amplified tones of guitar and bass and this debut was recorded completely live (in a church nonetheless). There’s a definite urgency in their take on the genre that takes a hold almost immediately. High waves of frequency seep into your conscious and the sounds that Jim Field and Dorian Williamson (both Holoscene members) make are truly dripping with a stately warmth. Their hums and thrums are full of texture and a sense of movement and there’s an all-round feeling that Northumbria is a constant forward motion into the unknown.

Northumbria - Church

Jim Field – Guitar, Dorian Williamson – Bass

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Bong – Mana-Yood-Sushai

I originally wrote this for inclusion in Metal Hammer. Alas, there was some kind of technical error and the piece was double commissioned. I’m interested to see what the other writer named Carter thinks of Bong’s newest release but for now, here are my thoughts*

1. Dreams of Mana-Yood-Sushai
2. Trees, Grass and Stones

Mana-Yood-Sushai heralds the first Bong studio recording in their prolific seven year history and it’s a surprising addition to their output so soon after last years full length Beyond Ancient Space. Two tracks of vibrating drone make up this release and whilst it’s lovingly crafted and deftly handled, there’s a little something missing. Mana-Yood-Sushai feels too sterile – the unfamiliar environment of the studio perhaps affecting the tone. The thrumming undercurrent of manipulated sound pulses and pushes around soft drum rolls and flourishes of sitar expertly, but Bong seem content to let the twenty minute run time of first track “Dreams of Mana-Yood-Sushai” pass with nary a moment to marvel over. It’s hypnotic sure, but not captivating enough to completely hold the attention. Drone should transport you into another dimension and the Indian instrumentation used by Bong is otherworldly in texture and depth, yet it’s not until the murmuring vocal filters through “Trees, Grass and Stones” does Mana-Yood-Sushai start to take shape. Unfortunately, it’s a case of too little too late for this otherwise bewitching act.

As is customary, I also gave it a score.


*I have been given permission to use this, please don’t strike me down Hammers Gods.